• Saturday, April 20, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

No relief for India opposition leader Kejriwal yet as court extends detention

In March, India’s financial crime-fighting agency Enforcement Directorate arrested Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi and leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, on corruption charges linked to the city government’s liquor policy.

Supporters of India’s opposition coalition comprising of various political parties named ‘INDIA’ or Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, shouts slogans and holds masks resembling AAP chief and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, during a rally held in New Delhi on March 31, 2024. (Photo by AMARJEET KUMAR SINGH/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

THE tunnel seemed to turn longer for Indian opposition leader Arvind Kejriwal on Monday (1) when a court in Delhi renewed his detention until April 15 in a corruption case, his lawyers informed.

The first phase of national elections in India will take place on April 19.

In March, India’s financial crime-fighting agency Enforcement Directorate arrested Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi and leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, on corruption charges linked to the city government’s liquor policy, sparking huge protests. He was subsequently remanded into custody until Monday.

Opposition parties allege that this arrest, coupled with actions by the Narendra Modi government against other opposition entities and their leaders, indicates a lack of fairness in the electoral process. The government has denied the charges.

Read: India opposition hold rally against Modi: ‘PM trying match-fixing this poll’

The AAP, which is part of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance that looks to prevent Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from winning the third consecutive term in power, claims that he has been unjustly arrested in a concocted case. The BJP has denied any political interference.

On Monday, lawyers of the ED said Kejriwal had not been cooperating with them and gave evasive responses, asking the court to hold him in custody for a fortnight more, the website Live Law said.

Read: Despite the trouble, Arvind Kejriwal is India’s only opposition leader who can take on Modi’s BJP

Kejriwal’s wife Sunita slammed the Modi government over his arrest, telling reporters, “These people have only one aim, they want to put him in prison during the elections. The people will give a response to this dictatorship.”

Sudhanshu Trivedi, a spokesperson of the BJP, said the court’s decision, based on concrete evidence, raised moral and constitutional questions.

The detention of the prominent leader triggered demonstrations both in the capital and the northern state of Punjab, also governed by his party.

The court’s ruling on Monday follows a rally organized by the INDIA bloc, a coalition of 27 opposition parties, in New Delhi where they condemned Kejriwal’s arrest and accused Modi of attempting to manipulate the upcoming elections.

Several regional factions, alongside other opposition parties, are also encountering scrutiny from federal agencies, which they assert are driven by political motives.

Voice has also been raised over Kejriwal’s arrest and detention from outside India. Western nations such as Germany and the US reacted over the development, along with the United Nations, inviting strong response from the Indian government which called it interference.

(With Reuters inputs)

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