Arvind Kejriwal was taken into custody by the Enforcement Directorate over the liquor policy issue.

Mr. Kejriwal has made history by becoming the first sitting chief minister to be apprehended.

In a significant turn of events in national politics, just weeks before the Lok Sabha election, Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal has been taken into custody by the Enforcement Directorate over allegations related to the liquor policy scandal. The investigation agency was looking into potential money laundering aspects of the case.

Mr. Kejriwal’s arrest marks a historic moment as he becomes the first serving chief minister to face such a situation in Independent India. Despite this development, his party has affirmed that he will continue to hold his position.

Addressing the media outside the chief minister’s residence, Delhi minister Atishi expressed concerns, suggesting that Mr. Kejriwal’s arrest is part of a larger conspiracy orchestrated by the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. She highlighted the lack of substantial findings by the Enforcement Directorate or the CBI, despite numerous raids conducted on AAP leaders and ministers during the two-year-long investigation into the case.

“After the announcement of the Lok Sabha election, Arvind Kejriwal’s arrest is a conspiracy,” said Ms. Atishi in Hindi. “Mr. Kejriwal is not just an individual, he represents an ideology. If arresting one Kejriwal is thought to eradicate that ideology, it’s a misconception. Mr. Kejriwal is, was, and will remain the Chief Minister of Delhi. We have consistently stated that he will continue to govern even from jail if necessary. There’s no law preventing him from doing so.”

Emphasizing that Mr. Kejriwal has not been convicted, Ms. Atishi asserted that the fight will persist, and the party has approached the Supreme Court to challenge his arrest. “Our legal team is urgently moving to court for a hearing tonight. We demand immediate attention to the case,” she added.

An Enforcement Directorate team, comprising 12 officials, arrived at Mr. Kejriwal’s residence on Thursday evening with a search warrant. After questioning him, he was eventually arrested. The authorities confiscated his and his wife’s phones, transferring data from two tablets and a laptop found at his home.

While the questioning took place inside the residence, Delhi Police, Rapid Action Force personnel, and CRPF teams were stationed outside. Prohibitory orders were enforced in the surrounding area, and several AAP supporters who had gathered to protest Mr. Kejriwal’s arrest were detained.

Less than a week following the arrest of BRS leader K Kavitha in the liquor policy case, the Delhi Chief Minister was apprehended. This marks the first instance where Mr. Kejriwal has been implicated as a conspirator in the case.

Since the initial summons were issued by the Enforcement Directorate in October last year, with a demand for his appearance on November 2, there has been widespread anticipation regarding the possibility of the Delhi Chief Minister being detained by the agency.

In February last year, Former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was imprisoned in connection with the case, while AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh was taken into custody in October.

Mr. Kejriwal has consistently asserted that there was no wrongdoing in the Delhi liquor policy and alleges that the Enforcement Directorate, which he believes is influenced by the BJP, is targeting him for arrest. The AAP and various other opposition parties have accused the BJP of abusing central agencies to target their leaders. They argue that the harassment of opposition figures has escalated in the lead-up to the Lok Sabha elections, scheduled to commence on April 19.

The AAP’s allies within the INDIA bloc, including the Trinamool Congress and the Congress, have also criticized the arrest. Senior Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra expressed her disapproval, stating, “Targeting Delhi Chief Minister Shri Arvind Kejriwal in this manner ahead of elections is entirely unjust and unconstitutional. Engaging in such low-level politics benefits neither the Prime Minister nor his government.”

Earlier on Thursday, the Delhi High Court rejected Mr. Kejriwal’s plea for protection from arrest in the liquor policy case but instructed the Enforcement Directorate to respond to his petition. The court scheduled the next hearing for April 22, with Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Manoj Jain stating, “Having considered both sides, we are not inclined at this stage to grant protection. The respondent (ED) is free to file a reply.”

In a press release issued on Sunday, the Enforcement Directorate labeled the AAP chief as a conspirator in the purported liquor policy scandal.

“According to the ED investigation, Ms. K Kavitha, along with others, plotted with the top brass of AAP, including Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia, to secure advantages in the formulation and execution of Delhi’s Excise policy. In return for these advantages, she allegedly participated in paying ₹100 Crore to the AAP leaders,” stated the press release.

“The AAP allegedly generated a steady flow of illicit funds through corrupt practices and conspiracy in the development and execution of the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22. These funds, received as kickbacks from wholesalers, were deemed illegal. Additionally, Smt. K Kavitha and her associates purportedly aimed to reclaim the illegally acquired proceeds paid to AAP in advance, while also aiming to generate further profits from this entire conspiracy,” the statement continued.

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