MUMBAI: India on Wednesday summoned a top US diplomat over Washington’s remarks on the arrest of key opposition leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal just weeks before the parliamentary elections.

The US State Depart­ment had urged India to ensure a “fair, transparent, and timely legal process” for Kejriwal, who was arrested last week.

India strongly objected to the remarks two days after Washington said it is closely following reports of Kejriwal’s arrest and that it encourages a fair legal process.

“We take strong objection to the remarks,” India’s foreign ministry said in a statement. “In diplomacy, states are expected to be respectful of the sovereignty and internal affairs of others.”

Local broadcasters showed the senior US diplomat Gloria Berbena entering India’s foreign ministry.

Earlier, Germany had raised its concerns about the arrest of Kejriwal, a key leader in an opposition alliance formed to compete against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in elections, beginning on April 19. The foreign ministry said it had also summoned Germany’s deputy ambassador on Saturday.

Kejriwal, whose Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) governs the national capital territory and the northern state of Punjab, was arrested last week by the federal financial crime-fighting agency on corruption charges.

The federal government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party deny political interference. “India’s legal processes are based on an independent judiciary which is committed to objective and timely outcomes. Casting aspersions on that is unwarranted,” the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement.

“In diplomacy, states are expected to be respectful of the sovereignty and internal affairs of others. This responsibility is even more so in case of fellow democracies. It could otherwise end up setting unhealthy precedents,” it said.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2024

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