22-May-2024  Srinagar booked.net

India

Delhi Chief Minister Arrested by ED in Liquor Policy Probe

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New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister and prominent opposition leader Arvind Kejriwal has been arrested by ED in connection with corruption allegations related to the city’s liquor policy with hundreds of his supporters protesting outside his residence and dozens detained.

The arrest of a serving Chief Minister comes just weeks ahead of the Lok Sabha election. Earlier, two of Kejriwal’s deputies including former Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and AAP Rajya Sabha MP (Member of Parliament) Sanjay Singh were arrested in the same case last year.

According to reports, an ED team, comprising 12 officials and led by Additional Director Kapil Raj -- the officer who arrested former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren in January – reached Mr Kejriwal's residence with a search warrant. His and his wife's phones were confiscated and data was transferred from two tablets and a laptop at his home.

Speaking from outside the Chief Minister's official residence on Thursday, Delhi minister Atishi rejected the allegations and said that the AAP was seeking to quash the latest arrest.

“Mr Kejriwal's arrest is a conspiracy orchestrated by the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” she said.

The ED had issued nine summons to Kejriwal for questioning but he did not answer them. He also sought protection from arrest from court, saying his party would be weakened in elections if that were to happen. However, the Delhi High Court refused to grant him protection from arrest.

The AAP and many other opposition parties have accused the BJP of misusing central agencies against opposition. The arrests of opposition leaders, they have claimed, has increased in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, which will begin on April 19.

The Case:

Under the liquor policy, introduced in November 2021, the government withdrew from retail sale of liquor and allowed private licensees to run stores. In July 2022, Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar flagged gross violations in the policy and alleged "undue benefits" to liquor licenses. The policy was scrapped in September that year.

Then, the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) said that liquor companies helped make this rule. They said the companies would make 12% more money if this rule stayed. They also said a group of liquor people, called the "South Group", paid money to government workers. They said some of this money was sent to public servants. The Enforcement Directorate also said they found evidence of this money being sent.

The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) said the AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) used this money to help their campaign for the Gujarat Assembly elections in 2022. “The AAP got about 13% of the votes in those elections and became a big party in India.”