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27 Mar, 2024 14:33

India blasts Washington over remarks on Modi critic’s arrest 

New Delhi has summoned a senior US diplomat following comments on opposition leader Arvind Kejriwal’s case
India blasts Washington over remarks on Modi critic’s arrest 

India summoned a top US diplomat on Wednesday to notify Washington that it “strongly objected” to comments on the arrest of prominent opposition leader Arvind Kejriwal, the Acting Chief Minister of Delhi. Reacting to the American statement, New Delhi indicated it expects its “sovereignty and internal affairs” to be respected by other states. 

A spokesperson for the US State Department said Tuesday that Washington was “closely following” the arrest of Kejriwal – who has been in custody since last Thursday on corruption charges – and encouraged a “fair, transparent and timely” legal process. On Wednesday, New Delhi summoned the US Acting Deputy Chief of Mission, Gloria Berbena, Indian media reported. The meeting at the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s office lasted around 40 minutes, according to the news channel NDTV. 

The ministry then issued a statement saying it took strong objection “to the remarks made by the US State Department spokesperson” about “certain legal proceedings” in India. “In diplomacy, states are expected to be respectful of the sovereignty and internal affairs of others,” the Indian Foreign Ministry said. “This responsibility is even more so in case of fellow democracies. It could otherwise end up setting unhealthy precedents.”

New Delhi’s statement also stressed that the country’s legal processes are “based on an independent judiciary” which is committed to delivering objective and timely outcomes.  “Casting aspersions on that is unwarranted,” it stated.

The development comes just two days after the Indian Foreign Ministry summoned a German diplomat for the same reason. Berlin said in the immediate aftermath of Kejriwal’s arrest that it expected standards relating to the “independence of judiciary and basic democratic principles” would be applied to his case. In response, New Delhi accused Germany of “blatant interference” in its internal affairs. 

Kejriwal, the leader of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which governs the New Delhi and Punjab regions, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) agency on corruption charges related to an alleged liquor scam last week. Kejriwal denies wrongdoing and is challenging his arrest in the Delhi High Court. Sunita Kejriwal, the wife of the accused, claimed the ED conducted over 250 raids in a “so-called liquor policy scam” but “no money was found.”

The AAP is part of the National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), an opposition alliance that seeks to oust Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in general elections beginning next month. Various pollsters, however, have predicted a clear road to victory for the BJP. An India TV-CNX opinion poll projected the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) would win 378 out of 543 seats, while the INDIA bloc was likely to win 98 seats.

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