Delhi ministers detained during AAP protest against Arvind Kejriwal's arrest


Arvind Kejriwal is the first sitting Chief Minister arrested in the country.

New Delhi:

Battle lines are drawn after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in the alleged liquor policy scam, with his Aam Aadmi Party launching huge protests in Delhi as well as in all the country.

State ministers Atishi and Saurabh Bhardwaj, who were leading a mega protest march in Delhi, and other protesters have been detained. Dramatic ITO footage showed Atishi being dragged by police to a bus meant to take protesters to the nearest police station.

As part of security measures, the police have closed all roads leading to the AAP headquarters. The AAP has summoned all its officials, ministers and councilors to the main headquarters at 10 a.m.

Water cannons and paramilitary forces have also been deployed on the DDU road, which leads to the BJP headquarters. The ITO Metro station will remain closed from 8 am to 6 pm today on the advice of the Delhi Police, the Delhi Metro said.

Kejriwal, who had challenged his arrest before the Supreme Court yesterday, today withdrew his petition and informed that they will first approach a lower court. Meanwhile, the probe agency will produce the Chief Minister before an ED court.

Kejriwal's arrest, just weeks before the Lok Sabha elections, has unleashed waves of protests by thousands of party workers and condemnations from the opposition camp. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will visit Kejriwal's family today, sources said.

Read | Explained: Why the Enforcement Directorate arrested Arvind Kejriwal

The AAP has said Kejriwal will continue to perform his prime ministerial duties from jail, a prospect that may create a constitutional crisis, legal experts have said.

Earlier in the day, Atishi spoke at a press conference and called the arrest a “political conspiracy by the BJP”.

“It is the first time that the central government has arrested a sitting Chief Minister. In the history of the country, it is the first time that after the announcement of the Lok Sabha elections, the national coordinator of a national party has been arrested. Arvind “Kejriwal's arrest is a political conspiracy by the BJP,” he said.

The arrest

The Enforcement Directorate, which is probing a money laundering angle in the alleged liquor policy scam, had termed Kejriwal a “conspirator”.

The investigation team reached Mr. Kejriwal's house last night with a search warrant after he skipped nine summons from the central agency. Later that day, the Delhi High Court refused to grant him protection from arrest.

Read | AAP says Arvind Kejriwal will remain chief minister. How feasible is that?

The agency arrested him around 9 pm after a search and questioning session and took him to the ED office. They also confiscated his and his wife's phones and transferred data from two tablets and a laptop in his home. Kejriwal spent the night in the ED lockup after a medical check-up at the RML hospital, sources said.

In a post-midnight press conference, the AAP called for a nationwide protest against the BJP on Friday. In Delhi, the protest will take place in front of the BJP headquarters.

The scrapped excise policy was introduced to reform the liquor business in Delhi and promised a more modern shopping experience. But Delhi lieutenant governor VK Saxena's order to probe alleged irregularities in the new policy led to its cancellation.

Kejriwal's arrest comes less than a week after BRS leader K Kavitha was detained in the liquor policy case. Kejriwal was first named as a conspirator after Kavitha's arrest. Two prominent AAP leaders, Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh, are already in jail in connection with the case.


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