Indian opposition supporters detained ahead of protest at Modi’s Delhi home

Published March 26, 2024
Aam Aadmi Party activists shout slogans during a protest near India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi residence in New Delhi, India on March 26. — AFP
Aam Aadmi Party activists shout slogans during a protest near India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi residence in New Delhi, India on March 26. — AFP
Policemen detain Aam Aadmi Party activists during a protest near India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi residence in New Delhi, India on March 26. — AFP
Policemen detain Aam Aadmi Party activists during a protest near India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi residence in New Delhi, India on March 26. — AFP

Police in the Indian capital detained dozens of opposition supporters on Tuesday as they attempted to march to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s residence to protest against last week’s arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

Kejriwal, a key opposition leader whose Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has governed the national capital territory for a decade, was arrested by the financial crime-fighting agency on corruption charges relating to the city’s liquor policy, weeks before India begins voting in general elections on April 19.

He was remanded to the custody of the Enforcement Directorate until March 28, with the lawyer for the agency arguing he was the “kingpin” in the case and needed to be interrogated.

Kejriwal’s party, all of whose main leaders are now imprisoned in connection with the case, says he has been “falsely arrested” in a “fabricated case”. The federal government and Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) deny political interference.

On Tuesday, Kejriwal’s supporters attempted to march to Modi’s residence but were stopped by police at a location where they gathered about five kilometres away.

Television visuals showed several protesters sitting on the ground and chanting slogans as police personnel tried to haul them into buses.

Elsewhere in the city, police used water cannon to disperse BJP supporters trying to march to the Delhi Secretariat to demand Kejriwal’s resignation, and detained some of them.

“The chief minister of Delhi is corrupt and dishonest … he will have to resign,” state BJP President Virendraa Sachdeva told news agency ANI.

AAP leaders said Kejriwal would not resign and protests demanding his release would continue.

“I want to tell the federal government, this fight, this movement, will not stop because of the force of your police, this voice is reaching the entire nation,” Delhi’s Environment Minister Gopal Rai told reporters.

Multiple metro stations were closed “until further notice” due to “security reasons”, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation said on messaging platform X on Tuesday morning.

Delhi Police issued a notice warning traffic would be affected “in view of special Law and Order arrangement” in the city.

AAP is part of the ‘INDIA’ bloc, an alliance of more than two dozen political parties formed last year to jointly challenge the BJP in the general elections.

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The group plans to hold a joint rally in Delhi on March 31 to protest against Kejriwal’s arrest, hoping to renew their unity after bickering and failed attempts at sharing seats to field common candidates against the BJP.

The arrest of the high-profile Kejriwal, whose party also rules the northern Indian state of Punjab, has drawn international attention, with Germany and the US appealing for a “fair” and “impartial” trial in the case in line with “basic democratic principles”.

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