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23 Mar, 2024 12:51

India summons German diplomat over ‘blatant interference’

New Delhi has lodged formal protest with Berlin after comments on the arrest of opposition leader Arvind Kejriwal
India summons German diplomat over ‘blatant interference’

New Delhi on Saturday lodged a strong protest against Berlin over “blatant interference” in India’s internal affairs, delivering a rebuke to a senior German diplomat. The deputy head of the German Embassy, Georg Enzweiler was summoned to the Indian foreign ministry a day after the EU state commented on Thursday’s arrest of Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi and a vocal critic of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“We see such remarks as interfering in our judicial process and undermining the independence of our judiciary,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement on Saturday. “India is a vibrant and robust democracy with rule of law. As in all legal cases in the country, and elsewhere in the democratic world, law will take its own course in the instant matter,” it added.

The German Foreign Ministry on Friday said it had taken note of Kejriwal’s arrest and expected that standards relating to “independence of judiciary and basic democratic principles” would be applied to his case. “Mr Kejriwal is entitled to a fair and impartial trial, this includes [that] he can make use of all available legal avenues, without restrictions,” Berlin asserted. 

Reacting to the statement, New Delhi noted that “biased assumptions made on this account are most unwarranted.”

Kejriwal, leader of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) agency on corruption charges related to an alleged liquor scam. The AAP governs the Indian capital and the neighboring state of Punjab. Kejriwal has denied the allegations and ignored numerous summonses in the case. His party has said the arrest is part of a “conspiracy.”

The AAP is part of the opposition ‘INDIA’ alliance that will compete with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the general election, beginning next month. Modi’s party, however, appears a clear favorite to sweep the polls, according to analysts.

Before Kejriwal’s arrest, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, a member of the Congress party, another major rival of the BJP, was arrested in January in connection with suspected graft.

The episode with Germany comes days after New Delhi lashed out at Washington over its comments on India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). This new law halves the residency requirement for undocumented migrants from Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, or Christian communities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, or Pakistan, who have entered India on or before December 31, 2014.

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller, responding to a query on whether the law would affect religious freedoms, had said that Washington was “closely monitoring” it, out of “concern” over how it would be implemented. New Delhi described the US reaction as “misplaced, misinformed, and unwarranted.”

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