Opposition protests surge following arrest of Delhi Chief Minister

Indian police detained numerous opposition protesters on Tuesday, aiming to march to the residence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanding the release of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Last week saw the arrest of Kejriwal, a pivotal political figure, on bribery charges, marking a historic moment as the first instance of a sitting chief minister facing such circumstances in India.

Nearly 300 demonstrators in support of Kejriwal converged at India’s Parliament House before officers, some clad in riot gear encircled and apprehended them. Despite their vocal support, authorities escorted the demonstrators away in buses, with the anticipation of their release later in the day.

Kejriwal’s arrest centers around allegations that he and his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) accepted bribes totaling 1 billion rupees ($12 million) from liquor contractors, a charge adamantly refuted by the party. The implicated liquor policy, now defunct, adds a layer of complexity to the unfolding narrative.

The timing of Kejriwal’s arrest, just weeks before India’s general elections scheduled to commence on April 19, has heightened political tensions. Opposition parties, including Kejriwal’s AAP, accuse the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of using its power to stifle dissent. Conversely, the BJP maintains that law enforcement agencies are acting independently.

The Enforcement Directorate, responsible for Kejriwal’s arrest, alleges his central role in the bribery scandal, dubbing him the “kingpin and key conspirator.” Meanwhile, Kejriwal’s supporters have been staging daily protests since his detention, demanding his release and denouncing what they perceive as political vendetta.

The atmosphere remains charged, with Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code imposed in the vicinity of Modi’s residence prohibiting gatherings. As tensions persist between the opposition and the ruling BJP, the outcome of Kejriwal’s arrest and its implications for India’s political landscape remain uncertain.