Amidst conflicting reports, claims and counter-claims, with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders in Delhi plunging into the controversial issue with a holier-than-thou public stance, the Swati Maliwal case is becoming hazier by the day. However, amidst the war of words, certain facts have come to light which puts the entire murky affair in a larger perspective.

There are allegations that the high moral ground which the BJP is taking might be allegedly ‘stage-managed’ as a ‘predetermined conspiracy’, especially being enacted in a crucial phase before the last phase of the elections, and when Arvind Kejriwal is out of jail for just about 20 days to campaign. Clearly, Kejriwal’s campaign has been extremely effective, and he is said to be damaging the BJP badly in Delhi and Haryana.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) slogan of “‘jail ke badle vote’ (voted in exchange of jail)” has found an affirmative audience. Most people in Delhi, especially the almost 60 per cent of the poor and slum-dwellers, have felt deep angst and anger about their elected Chief Minister being sent to jail, and without any apparent evidence.

Even the middle class does not seem to appreciate this brazen and vindictive act on the part of the BJP regime. Delhi’s Deputy CM, Manish Sisodia, who is credited with turning government schools in Delhi into centres of excellence, has been in jail for almost a year.

Indeed, two videos have emerged, which seem to show that all that Maliwal, a Rajya Sabha MP nominated by AAP, has put forward as extremely serious accusations, might not be completely up to the mark.

Besides, a certain earlier case against her, filed by the BJP government in the Centre, has also raked up allegations of alleged ‘blackmail’ by the powers-that-be; that she feared of going to jail, among other things. Indeed, these tactics have been in play since long, across the entire country, under the BJP regime in Delhi. There has been a large-scale and ritualistic use of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against scores of opposition leaders.

The controversial issue erupted on May 13, 2024, when Maliwal went to the Delhi CM’s residence, at 8.30-9 AM, apparently without an appointment. She was made to wait in the waiting room by the security staff.

She, then, reportedly, wanted an immediate meeting with Kejriwal, and thereby created a ruckus, while allegedly trying to barge inside the CM’s residence, which is separated from the waiting area. This is when Bibhav Kumar, personal assistant to the CM, rushed from the CM’s bungalow to meet Maliwal.

According to reports, she still tried to barge in, and was stopped by the security staff. Kumar allegedly screamed at Maliwal “without any provocation”, she has claimed. According to the first information report (FIR) filed by Maliwal, Kumar allegedly “slapped her seven to eight times, kicked her on the chest, stomach and pelvis”.

Before she was nominated to the Rajya Sabha Maliwal had been appointed the chief of Delhi Commission for Women by Kejriwal. She was tireless in that role, and she did an exemplary stint as its chief. That is precisely why, observers believe, that she was given a Rajya Sabha nomination by the party.

The FIR alleged that “Kumar dragged Maliwal, her clothes were dishevelled, her shirt was pulled up, while she screamed for help”. In her two-page statement, according to reports, Maliwal accused Bibhav of “outraging her modesty, slapping and kicking her, and threatening” her at the CM’s residence.

Maliwal stated in the FIR, “Suddenly... Kumar barged into the room. He started screaming at me without any provocation. He even started abusing me. I was stunned by his reaction... I reacted by telling him to stop talking to me like this and call the CM.” She also claimed that she fell and hit her head on the centre table but Kumar kept hitting her.

However, the two videos seem to contradict her claim. One shows her being peacefully led out, held by her arm by a woman security officer. Maliwal is wearing a shirt and trousers, and holding a bag. She peacefully walks out, her clothes and demeanour are in order, and she is not limping.

The second video, apparently shot three days later, shows her in a blue dress, in a hospital. She arrives in a wheelchair, looks ill, and is limping.

Since then, predictably, with the BJP protesting outside the CM’s residence, the Delhi Police moved in quickly, with a forensics team in tow, and arrested Bibhav Kumar, who had already intimated them that he is ready to surrender. His version contradicts the claims made by Maliwal.

While it took a while for the issue to gain clarity, and while it had the probability of snow-balling into a major controversy, observers pointed out that the Delhi Police’s alacrity was not witnessed, for instance, when India’s world champion women wrestlers had to protest in the open at Jantar Mantar for six long months.

The wrestlers were demanding that an FIR be registered against BJP ‘bahubali’ Brij Bhushan Singh, incumbent MP from Kaiserganj, Uttar Pradesh.

Several women wrestlers had then complained of relentless physical and sexual harassment, against Singh, then chief of the Wrestling Federation of India. Instead, the world champions were dragged, beaten up and arrested in the heart of the capital, by the Delhi Police, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the new Parliament building, accompanied by typical religious hyperbole.

Olympic champion Sakshi Malik, in tears at a press meet in Delhi, quit her sport. World champions Vinesh Phogat, and her comrade, Bajrang Punia, left their prestigious medals on the street at Janpath in Delhi, out in the open, as a mark of protest. Earlier, they had almost immersed their medals in the river Ganga at Haridwar.

Indeed, the unrepentant and muscle-flexing ‘bahubali’ has not been arrested till date. Instead, his son has been given a MP ticket by the BJP high command from the same constituency.

“What kind of signal does this party of ‘beti bachao’ send to the mothers and daughters of this country? If they can treat internationally famous world champions with such brazen and relentless disregard, how will they treat ordinary women and girls of India? Are they safe under this dispensation? Has the BJP leadership lost all sense of moral and ethical conduct,” a woman student in Delhi asked.

Besides, critics point out that the Prime Minister campaigned in support of Prajwal Revanna, a Janata Dal-Secular MP candidate from Hassan, Karnataka. Revanna belongs to the powerful family of former PM H. D. Deve Gowda and his son the former CM of Karnataka, Kumaraswamy.

This, reports state, when the PM, and his Union Home Minister Amit Shah, were reportedly fully in the know about Revenna’s perverse actions; they were warned by certain state BJP leaders that there are serious allegations of sexual assaults against him. Indeed, 2,900 videos have emerged in flash drives, which he had reportedly filmed himself, in which he is seen to be assaulting scores of women – including a 63-year-old housemaid.

Revanna escaped from right under the eyes of the Central government, apparently using a diplomatic passport. He is apparently in Germany. He promised to come back and join the investigations.

His father, also a prominent politician and the brother of Kumaraswamy, was arrested and is now out on bail. Revanna has been booked, but he is still, willfully, absconding.

A prominent minister in the AAP-led Delhi government, Atishi Singh, has claimed that Maliwal has been facing charges in an illegal recruitment case and that she was obviously "blackmailed" by the BJP. According to Singh, Maliwal was “made to become a part of a larger conspiracy against Kejriwal.”

Singh said that even after 24 hours, the complaint filed by Kumar, was not taken into account. The Delhi Police is a "tool of the BJP" and is targeting Kejriwal, she said.

Atishi said: "Why did she barge in? Why did she land up at the chief minister's residence without an appointment? Arvind Kejriwal was busy that day and did not meet her. If he had met her that day, the allegations levelled against Bibhav Kumar could have been levelled against him.”

"The BJP has a pattern. First, they file cases and then they threaten to send leaders to jail. Swati Maliwal is facing charges in an illegal recruitment case registered by the Anti-Corruption Branch. An FIR has been registered in the case and it is at a stage where she could be arrested… The BJP blackmailed Maliwal and made her the face of this conspiracy," Singh claimed.

She said that if the Delhi Police is indeed impartial, it should also register an FIR on Kumar's complaint against Maliwal."Will the Delhi Police register a case of trespassing, breach of security and obstructing a government servant from discharging his duty against her?

“If the Delhi Police is impartial, it should register an FIR on Bibhav's complaint. Will it act on his complaint the same way it did on Maliwal's complaint?... Her call records should be looked into and analysed… which BJP leaders she was in touch with.”

The first video from the CM's residence, in which Maliwal is seen arguing with security personnel, had surfaced on social media earlier. Later, Singh said at a press meet that the second video shows that allegations levelled by her are "false".

"Swati Maliwal wrote in the complaint that she was unable to walk and was screaming in pain after the assault. She wrote that her head hit the centre table and she sustained injuries. And yet, she is seen walking without a limp, her clothes in order, escorted by a security official” Singh said.

In a press meet, meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Shazia Ilmi (who was earlier with AAP), said that she was concerned about the safety of Maliwal, and that she could be intimidated. “It is indeed very serious. Kejriwal should come clean on this, offer his resignation if he cannot ask Bibhav to resign,” she said.

Senior AAP leader Sanjay Singh had earlier visited Swati Maliwal at her residence. He had categorically stated that the party would take appropriate action on the issue. However, since then, Singh has chosen silence. Critics are asking why has he changed his stance since then?