Kejriwal arrest: Section 144 imposed amid AAP's plans to 'gherao' PM residence, many activists detained

Security personnel deployed outside Patel Chowk metro station in view of AAP's PM residence 'gherao' protest against the arrest of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, in New Delhi, Tuesday, March 26, 2024. Photo: PTI.

New Delhi: Aam Aadmi Party leaders and workers took to the streets on Tuesday against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's arrest. Punjab Minister Harjot Singh Bains and Somnath Bharti were among the scores of AAP members detained at Patel Chowk as they tried to march towards the prime minister's residence on Lok Kalyan Marg raising slogans of "Inquilab Zindabad" and "Kejriwal Zindabad". Senior AAP leader Bharti in a post on X said he has been detained by police along with Delhi Assembly Deputy Speaker and AAP's Mangolpuri MLA Rakhi Birla.

 Since the party called for a "gherao" at the PM's residence, prohibitory orders under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure were by the police imposed here and in the Patel Chowk area.

Meanwhile,  at least 57 BJP members, including the party's Delhi chief, were detained and water cannons used during its protest march here on Tuesday to demand Kejriwal's resignation. 

The Delhi High Court will on Wednesday hear a petition by the Delhi CM challenging his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in the money-laundering case linked to the alleged excise policy scam. Kejriwal's petition, which has sought his immediate release on account of the arrest and the subsequent remand to ED being "illegal", is listed for hearing before Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma at 10.30 am. 

Security tightened amid protests
The police on Tuesday detained many AAP activists from Patel Chowk metro station. The cops informed the media that the party has not been granted permission to protest at public places.

Police also beefed up security in several other parts of the national capital. Traffic movement is likely to be affected in parts of New Delhi and Central Delhi due to the protest.

AAP workers and supporters at Shaheedi Park during a protest over the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in connection with an excise policy-linked money-laundering case, in New Delhi, Saturday, March 23, 2024. Photo: PTI.

Delhi Minister Gopal Rai had earlier announced plans to "gherao" the prime minister's residence on Tuesday to protest against Kejriwal's arrest. Rai had also said that "mega protests" would be held nationwide.

The Delhi Traffic Police has arranged seven diversion points for the smooth movement of vehicles given the protest. "Commuters must avoid Kemal Ataturk Marg, Safdarjung Road, Akbar Road and Teen Murti Marg on Tuesday because of the protest," an officer said. 

Kejriwal issues second order from custody
Meanwhile, Arvind Kejriwal issued directions from ED custody to ensure that medicines and tests are available to people at all government hospitals and Mohalla Clinics, Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj said on Tuesday.

AAP workers and supporters raise slogans during a protest over the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in connection with an excise policy-linked money-laundering case, at ITO in New Delhi, Sunday, March 24, 2024. Photo: PTI.

Kejriwal received information about problems in laboratory tests available at Mohalla Clinics and issued the directions, he told a press conference in New Delhi. The health department will act immediately to address the issues, Bharadwaj said.

He said the latest directions from Kejriwal show that despite being in custody, he always thinks about the well-being of the people of Delhi.

Sources had said the matter of issuing directions while being in custody will be looked into by the ED to ascertain if it is in line with the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court's order issued to the agency and Kejriwal during his custody period. 

The case
Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a money-laundering case linked to the now-scrapped excise policy on March 21. He is in the agency's custody till Thursday. The AAP national convenor is accused of soliciting kickbacks from liquor traders in exchange for favours, the central agency has claimed.

The ED has also accused Kejriwal of being the "kingpin and key conspirator" in the now-scrapped policy, in collusion with AAP leaders, ministers and other persons.

Kejriwal has refuted the allegations and accused the BJP-led Centre of "manipulating investigative agencies for political motives".
(With PTI inputs.)

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