NEW DELHI: Controversial AAP MLA Somnath Bharti continued to evade arrest for the second day today even as Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the legislator facing an attempt to murder and domestic violence case lodged by his estranged wife, is becoming an "embarrassment" to the party and asked him to surrender immediately.
Breaking his silence on the issue, the Chief Minister disapproved of Bharti going into hiding after Delhi High Court rejected his anticipatory bail plea yesterday, and asked him to cooperate with the police, wondering why he was scared of going to jail.
"Somnath should surrender. Why is he running away? Why is he so scared of going to jail? Now he is becoming an embarrassment for the party and his family.
"He should cooperate with police," Kejriwal tweeted.
The AAP MLA, whose wife accused him of domestic violence and attempt to murder, was not traceable after the court rejected his plea for anticipatory bail, observing that the allegations against him were backed by "documentary proof".
After the court ruling, police had raided several places yesterday including Bharti's residence and office but could not nab him. Raids have been conducted across the National Capital Region today also.
Bharti's wife Lipika Mitra had filed a complaint of domestic violence with Delhi Commission for Women on June 10 alleging that her husband had been abusing her since their marriage in 2010. She had also given a complaint to the police in this regard.
Delhi Police then registered an FIR against Bharti under sections 307 (attempt to murder), 498A (cruelty towards wife), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapon), 406 (criminal breach of trust), 313 read with 511 (attempt to cause miscarriage without woman's consent), 420 (cheating) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Southwest) Dependra Pathak said said several police teams are raiding places across National Capital Region including Faridabad and Gurgaon to arrest the Malviya Nagar MLA.
Police had picked up Bharti's brother Loknath Bharti and his private secretary last evening to know about his whereabouts. They were allowed to go later in the night.
Today, police picked up two more close aides of Bharti.
"We are questioning the duo picked up this morning regarding Bharti's whereabouts," Pathak said, adding around 12 people are under the scanner for allegedly helping Bharti.
"Several police teams are raiding places across NCR like Faridabad and Gurgaon. The AAP worker who sheltered Bharti last time when he was evading arrest has also been called for questioning," he said.
Last week, a local court had rejected his anticipatory bail in the same case. The party's top brass had then expressed its displeasure over his disappearance and asked him to cooperate with the police.
Meanwhile, Lipika thanked Kejriwal for asking Bharti to surrender.
"It's good that the Chief Minister has finally spoken out albeit after taking so much time. I am grateful to him," she said. However, she wondered why AAP made Bharti speak on an issue like 'women empowerment' during one-day special session of the Delhi Assembly in August.
"Considering they were defending him and made him speak on such issues, I am definitely surprised that the Chief Minister has taken this stand...He should act as a CM first and friend later," she said.
On being told that Bharti was avoiding arrest as he may appeal in the Supreme Court, Lipika said, "Whoever is advising him is definitely not his well-wisher."
"Delhi Police is doing what it can. He should come out and cooperate with police," she said.
The party has been taking the stand that the Delhi Police has been targeting it. However, Bharti's act of going into hiding has not gone well with party leadership.
AAP leader Ashutosh today said while police has been "unnecessarily showing a lot of interest" in the case, Bharti should "surrender and present his side of the story".