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India summons envoy after US criticizes arrest of Delhi chief ministers | India

India summons envoy after US criticizes arrest of Delhi chief ministers |  India


India summoned a top US diplomat after Washington warned it to ensure a fair, transparent and speedy legal process for a jailed senior opposition leader just weeks before parliamentary elections.

The US State Department said it was closely monitoring developments following the arrest last week of Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi's chief minister, as part of a long-running corruption investigation.

We strongly object to these remarks, the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. In diplomacy, states are expected to respect the sovereignty and internal affairs of others.

Local television channels showed the top US diplomat, Gloria Berbena, entering the Indian Foreign Ministry.

This is the first time that a sitting chief minister has been arrested and accused the Narendra Modis government of targeting opposition parties ahead of the national elections which begin on April 19.

Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came to power in the city in 2015 on the back of an anti-corruption movement and have repeatedly found themselves in the crosshairs of the national government, which has become increasingly intolerant of corruption. with regard to dissent.

In Washington, when asked about the Indian reaction, a State Department spokesperson, Matthew Miller, also cited complaints from the main opposition party in Congress about the freezing of bank accounts due to alleged delays in filing tax returns.

We are also aware of the Congress Party's allegations that tax authorities have frozen some of their bank accounts in a way that will make it difficult to campaign effectively in the next election, Miller said. We encourage fair, transparent and expeditious legal processes for each of these matters.

The United States has generally been cautious in its remarks on India, which it views as an increasingly important partner, despite concerns expressed by rights groups about the country's direction under Modi, a Hindu nationalist widely favored to win another term.

Germany last week also raised concerns over the arrest of Kejriwal, a key leader of an opposition alliance formed to rival Modi in elections that begin next month.

The Foreign Ministry said it had also summoned Germany's deputy ambassador on Saturday.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who was arrested last Thursday in connection with a corruption probe, seen in a file photo. Photograph: Mansi Thapliyal/Reuters

The AAP is part of a coalition of 27 parties that have united to fight Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the elections under the acronym India.

In a court hearing last Friday, investigators described Kejriwal as the kingpin and main conspirator in the case known as the Delhi liquor scam, involving accusations that his government allegedly received bribes while distributing alcohol licenses to private companies.

He has denied the charges, and his supporters say his arrest is aimed at sidelining Modi's opponents ahead of next month's election charges that the Foreign Ministry has rejected.

India's legal processes rely on an independent judiciary that is committed to objective and timely outcomes, the ministry added.

Party leaders promised that Kejriwal would remain chief minister and continue to rule from behind bars.

The financial investigation agency that arrested Kejriwal, the Enforcement Directorate, is under the control of the central government. Critics of the government say it is one of several agencies that have been used as weapons against the BJP's political opposition. The directorate has initiated investigations into at least four other chief ministers of the state or their family members.

Nearly a billion Indians will vote to elect a new government in six-week parliamentary elections beginning April 19, the world's largest democratic exercise.

Many analysts view Modi's re-election as a foregone conclusion, in part because of the resonance of his assertive Hindu nationalist policies with members of the country's majority faith.

Additional reporting by Hannah Ellis-Petersen




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