Thursday, April 18, 2024
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ED arrests Delhi CM Kejriwal

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Aam Aadmi Party supremo is first sitting chief minister to be arrested in India

New Delhi, March 21: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was on Thursday night arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in an excise policy-linked money laundering case, officials said, in a big setback to his Aam Aadmi Party and the opposition INDIA bloc just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
The arrest, the first of a serving chief minister, came hours after the Delhi High Court refused to grant protection to the AAP national convenor from any coercive action by the central probe agency.
The arrest of the 55-year-old bureaucrat-turned-activist-turned-politician at a time when the AAP seeks to expand its political footprint in the upcoming general elections drew strong condemnation from his party which is in power in Delhi and Punjab. Several opposition leaders also condemned the move and targeted the BJP and rallied behind Kejriwal.
The AAP said Kejriwal will continue as the chief minister of Delhi and that if need be, he will run the government from jail. The party also called for nationwide protests outside the BJP offices in the country, Delhi minister Gopal Rai said.
The BJP, however, demanded that Kejriwal step down as chief minister on moral grounds.
After his arrest, Kejriwal was brought to the office of the Enforcement Directorate(ED) in central Delhi around 11.25 pm in an SUV. The chief minister was seen sitting in the rear seat of the vehicle wearing a white half-shirt. He was escorted by three ED officers.
On a day of fast-paced developments, a 10-member ED team led by an additional director reached Kejriwal’s official residence on Flagstaff Road in Civil Lines in the national capital soon after the high court order and carried out searches. The AAP chief was arrested more than two hours after the ED team arrived at his residence, officials said.
Officials said the ED would produce the chief minister before a court here on Friday and seek his custody for interrogation in the case. This is the 16th arrest by the ED in the case that has hit the AAP.
Kejriwal had skipped nine summonses issued by the agency for questioning, the latest being for Thursday, March 21. He has called these summonses “illegal”.
The ED officials questioned Kejriwal briefly before making the arrest. Some seizures have also been made, sources said but gave no details.
Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj said the ED did not find any evidence during the searches and that the agency found Rs 70,000 which was returned.
As the ED officials carried out their action inside, additional Delhi Police personnel and Rapid Action Force (RAF) and CRPF teams were deployed around the chief minister’s residence.
The additional deployment was made as the ED sought extra security measures in anticipation of protests by AAP supporters.
A large number of AAP workers and leaders gathered near the chief minister’s residence and shouted slogans hailing Kejriwal and denouncing the ED action.
The Delhi Police detained around two dozen AAP workers, including MLAs, who were trying to block the road during their protests.
The police also stepped up security around the ED office on APJ Abdul Kalam Road in central Delhi.
During the day, Kejriwal moved the Supreme Court against the high court’s order denying him any relief in the matter.
Later, AAP leader and Delhi minister Atishi said they have moved the Supreme Court for quashing the arrest of Kejriwal and “asked for an urgent hearing…tonight itself.” But court sources said no special bench was being set up on Thursday night.
In Kejriwal’s absence, the party stares at uncertainty as many of its other senior leaders are either in jail or in political obscurity. His trusted aides — Sanjay Singh and Manish Sisodia — are in prison in connection with the excise policy case, while another close aide Satyendar Jain is in jail in a separate money laundering case. (PTI)

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