Opposition leader Kejriwal locked up for further four days, court rules

An Indian court on Thursday extended custody of a leading opposition leader for four more days after his arrest last week triggered protests, as the country gears up for a general election starting next month.

Arvind Kejriwal, New Delhi’s top elected official and one of the country’s most consequential politicians of the past decade, was arrested by the federal enforcement directorate on March 21.

The agency, controlled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, accused Kejriwal’s party and ministers of accepting 1.0 billion rupees (£9.5 million) in bribes from liquor contractors nearly two years ago.

The Aam Aadmi Party, or Common Man’s Party, has denied the accusations and said Mr Kejriwal will remain its chief minister as it fights the case in court.

India Politician Arrested
Policemen detain a member of Aam Admi Party during a protest against the arrest of their party leader Arvind Kejriwal in New Delhi (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

His political party is part of a broad alliance of opposition parties called INDIA, which is the main challenger to Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the coming election.

Hundreds of Mr Kejriwal’s supporters have been holding protests since he was arrested by the enforcement directorate, the federal agency that probes economic offences, on Friday.

The agency has accused Mr Kejriwal of being the “kingpin and key conspirator” in the liquor bribery case.

Mr Kejriwal has refuted the allegations and accused the directorate of “manipulating investigative agencies for political motives”.

Mr Kejriwal’s case has dominated the news in India ahead of the general election, which starts on April 19.

India’s opposition parties say the government is misusing its power to harass and weaken its political opponents, pointing to a spree of raids, arrests and corruption investigations against key opposition figures.

Meanwhile, some probes against erstwhile opposition leaders who later defected to the BJP have been dropped.

The BJP denies targeting the opposition and says law enforcement agencies act independently.

Mr Kejriwal’s arrest is the latest setback for the bloc, and came after the country’s main opposition Congress party accused the government last week of freezing its bank accounts in a tax dispute to cripple it.

Opposition figures have slammed the move as undemocratic and accused Modi’s party of misusing the agency to undermine them.

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –