Arvind Kejriwal "Treated Like Terrorist": Bhagwant Mann On Tihar Jail Meet

Arvind Kejriwal's arrest triggered a furious political row and physical clashes between AAP workers and Delhi Police, with the INDIA opposition bloc, of which the AAP is a member, also backing the Delhi Chief Minister.

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejirwal (File).

New Delhi:

Arvind Kejriwal is "being treated like a terrorist" and has been denied amenities given to "hardcore criminals' Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said after meeting the Aam Aadmi Party boss in Delhi's Tihar Jail. Mr Mann also warned the Bharatiya Janata Party - the AAP's political rival this election, and whom it has accused of trying to "demolish... before the first vote is cast". "When the results come out (on June 4), the AAP will emerge as a big political rival," the Punjab leader declared.

The meeting between Bhagwant Mann and Arvind Kejriwal took place inside Tihar in a room divided by a glass wall. The two opposition leaders spoke for 30 minutes via a connecting phone line.

"I became emotional seeing him. He is being treated like a hardcore criminal. What is his fault... that he built mohalla clinics (the AAP's flagship government health centres)?" Mr Mann asked.

The Punjab Chief Minister also praised his party boss for concern for the people of Delhi "even inside jail". Mr Kejriwal, he said, plans to call two ministers to Tihar Jail next week to discuss governance.

Arvind Kejriwal and the AAP have dismissed multiple calls for his resignation in the wake of his arrest, arguing the Chief Minister has, so far, only been charged with a crime and not convicted.

Mr Kejriwal has continued, therefore, to run his government from Tihar Jail; he has already passed two directions - to Health Minister Saurabh Bhardwaj and PWD Minister Atishi - since being jailed.

READ | Kejriwal's 2nd Order As AAP Sends A "Govt-From-Jail" Message

Mr Mann - who is on a shortlist of visitors allowed to meet Mr Kejriwal - applied to see the AAP leader last week, but was turned down citing security constraints. Following an outcry, jail officials and Delhi and Punjab Police met to work out a plan and the meeting was greenlit on Friday.

READ | On Second Request, Bhagwant Mann To Meet Kejriwal In Tihar Jail

The Delhi Chief Minister was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate last month on corruption charges linked to the alleged liquor policy scam and was sent to jail, after spending more than a week being interrogated by the ED in its custody. His jail term was extended this morning to April 23.

The ED believes Mr Kejriwal was directly involved in the formation of the now-scrapped liquor policy, which allegedly generated Rs 600 crore in kickbacks that helped the AAP fund poll campaigns.

The Delhi High Court last week dismissed a plea against his arrest; the court said the ED had submitted enough material to persuade it of Mr Kejriwal's involvement in the alleged scam.

Mr Kejriwal moved the Supreme Court challenging the High Court's ruling. The top court held a brief hearing today, in which it gave the federal agency till April 27 to respond.

READ | Kejriwal To Stay In Jail For Now, Supreme Court Refuses Early Hearing

Mr Kejriwal's arrest triggered a furious political row and physical clashes between AAP workers and Delhi Police. The INDIA opposition bloc, of which the AAP is a member, has also backed Mr Kejriwal.

Mr Kejriwal, who has vehemently denied the corruption charges, alleging a conspiracy to cripple the AAP before the election - has been staunchly defended by his colleagues, including Bhagwant Mann.

In a post on on X, Mr Mann said (in Hindi), "BJP ki rajnitik team ED Kejriwal ki soch ko qaid nahi karsakti, kyunki AAP hee BJP ko rok sakti hai. Soch ko kabhi bhi dabaya nahi ja sakta. (The BJP's political team - ED - cannot imprison Kejriwal's thinking because only AAP can stop the BJP...").

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