The Aam Aadmi Party has alleged that 80 per cent of its leaders were illegally detained by the Delhi Police since Sunday, and questioned whether anyone can be kept in detention for more than 24 hours.
The CBI on Sunday arrested Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in connection with alleged corruption in the now-scrapped excise policy while police detained 50 people, including AAP MP Sanjay Singh and minister Gopal Rai, who were protesting near the CBI office.
According to police, the leaders detained on Sunday were being released today.
Addressing a press conference, AAP national spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said the long detention was illegal and drew a parallel between former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s emergency era and the present.
“Since yesterday, the Aam Aadmi Party has been repeatedly saying that not only has Manish Sisodia ji been arrested, but almost 80 per cent of the leadership of the party has been arrested by police. When asked, the central government is saying that they have only been detained,” he said.
“I want to know whether the detention is of one hour, two hours or three hours. Now, it will be 24 hours, can police detain such big leaders for 24 hours? There is no such provision in the law,” he opined.
Noting that it is “illegal” to detain someone for such a long duration, he said, by now, the leaders should have been presented in the court.
“By now, you (government) should have presented them in the court and revealed the reasons and the sections under which you have arrested a Rajya Sabha MP? Delhi’s senior leader Gopal Rai has been detained. Adil Ahmed Khan, who looks after the work of the organisation has also been arrested. Dozens of MLAs and elected councillors have been arrested by police since yesterday. They spent the whole night in the police station. The police hasn’t released them yet,” he claimed.
Bhardwaj said these are “signs of emergency” and the Narendra Modi government at the Centre is doing what Indira Gandhi did when she imposed emergency in 1975.
“These are very dangerous signs. These are signs of emergency. You have put all the leaders behind bars without any reason and this is wrong. The central government should answer on what basis did it arrest our top leadership and put them behind bars,” he said.
Talking about Sisodia’s arrest, he wondered what new development had taken place that prompted the agency to arrest him.
“Today, I read all the newspapers to understand whether anything new was found against him (Sisodia). It was the same stale story that CBI has been narrating since May last year,” he claimed.
Questioning the need for Sisodia’s arrest, he said CBI has all the files but nothing was found against him.
“I want to know what was the need to make the arrest now. Was he running away from the country? He didn’t run in the last 10 months, why would he run now? Was he influencing anyone or destroying evidence? He had many opportunities in the last eight months and he could have done it but when he didn’t do it then why would he do it now,” he said.
Bhardwaj said that former LG Anil Baijal, who approved and notified the liquor policy, should also be questioned.
“The biggest thing that we came to know in the newspapers is that there is corruption in the policy that has been made. Everyone knows that it was former LG Anil Baijal who had approved and notified the policy. Baijal was appointed by the Centre itself. If he approved this policy then what is CBI doing for the last 10 months. Why didn’t the CBI interrogate him?” he asked.
Reiterating that the Centre is “torturing” the AAP, he said the party will hold a peaceful protest outside BJP headquarters to protest against the developments.
Sisodia’s arrest, one of the high-profile actions against an opposition leader, came after that of Satyendar Jain, Delhi’s former health minister, in June last year.
Meanwhile, AAP leaders and workers held protests in several states against the arrest of Sisodia. Amid tight security, protests are being staged in Chandigarh, Delhi, Bhopal, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Patna, Nagpur among other cities.