Kejriwal's arrest shows ruling party's 'remarkable degree of nervousness': Omar

National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah on Friday said the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was a "blot" on democracy, and shows the ruling party's "remarkable degree of nervousness".
National Conference vice president Omar Abdullahon CM Kejriwal's arrest
National Conference vice president Omar Abdullahon CM Kejriwal's arrest

Srinagar | National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah on Friday said the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was a "blot" on democracy, and shows the ruling party's "remarkable degree of nervousness".

The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said his party stands with Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

"Aisi Taisi Democracy. For all the talk of 400+ seats, the ruling dispensation is displaying a remarkable degree of nervousness. Having a sitting opposition CM arrested by a pliable central agency within days of the general elections being announced is a blot on democracy," Abdullah said in a post on X.

Kejriwal, who is also the national convenor and chief of AAP, was arrested on Thursday night by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case linked to alleged irregularities in the scrapped Delhi excise policy 2021-22.

Later, speaking to reporters here, Abdullah said Kejriwal's arrest was clearly linked to elections.

"Within days of the EC announcing the dates for the Lok Sabha polls, you see that the sitting chief minister and an important part of the opposition alliance has been arbitrarily arrested by the ED," he said.

However, the NC leader said Kejriwal is not the first opposition leader to face ED action.

"Some weeks ago, the sitting CM of Jharkhand was also in a similar position. His deputy chief minister was also arrested last year, others also. This is just unfortunately a part of a process whereby democratic institutions in this country have gradually been eroded to a point that they almost now cease to exist," he said.

Abdullah said whether the country realises the threat that our democracy faces, only time will tell, but, the legacy that this government would leave is extremely unfortunate for the country.

"This Government will not last forever, at some point or the other, this government will be out of office, out of power, but the lasting legacy that they will leave wherein democratic institutions will have been all but destroyed, is extremely unfortunate for this country," he added.

This is a fight that will continue, the NC leader said.

Asked whether the arrest was a pressure tactic before the polls, Abdullah said it was not something new.

"This has been going on for many years and there is no party left now which opposes the BJP and has not been targeted like this. This is a small part of the new democracy that has been established in our country in the last few years. But, all democratic institutions have been rendered hollow one by one," he said.

People did not even believe in the courts now, the former J-K chief minister said.

"When there was an Emergency at the time of Indira Gandhi, at least the people had the belief that they could knock on the doors of courts to get justice. But, today, unfortunately when the name of the judge is announced, we know what his decision would be. If this is the situation of our courts, then who will the people believe," he said, adding it would be very difficult to restore the beliefs and the institutions that have been made hollow in the last five-six years.

To a query about the ED's summons to NC president Farooq Abdullah, the junior Abdullah said they would face whatever they have to face.

"This is not something new. We have faced it in the past, we will continue to face it. We are fighting against the BJP. We have constantly fought against what the BJP has done to J-K in August 2019," he said.

Farooq Abdullah was charged by the ED in connection with an alleged cricket scam in 2022.

Unfortunately, the NC vice president said, these parties that supported the BJP at that time, are today bearing the brunt of what the BJP did to us.

"At that time, we were detained, those people supported what the BJP did.Today, they are being detained. It is unfortunate. We always said that whatever happens in J-K, its impact is seen in the rest of the country as well. We had warned all these parties that these arbitrary arrests and making democracy hollow will not stop at J-K, it will impact the whole country and that is what is being seen now," he added.

Asked about rumours that NC would join hands with the NDA, Abdullah said his party would not.

"Why? It is you who is saying this. We have neither heard this, nor have we given such an indication. We will not want to join NDA. We have nothing to do with NDA. We are here to defeat the BJP in J-K," he added.

On speculation that Ghulam Nabi Azad led DPAP, Peoples Conference and Apni Party were coming together to contest the Lok Sabha polls, he said it was not something new.

"We have seen similar situations earlier also that parties have stood against NC. Same situation is being created to weaken the NC but we will fight this," he said.

To a query on former MLA Sheikh Abdul Rasheed, also known as Engineer Rasheed, who is in jail under UAPA charges, contesting from north Kashmir's Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency, he said, "Till now, there has been no trial, he has not been found guilty of anything, keeping him in jail like this is a ploy against him".

"We all know who is the politician behind all this. We know who has an old animosity with Engineer Rasheed. Everyone knows who is the person who made friendly relations with Delhi and did this to Rasheed," Abdullah said without naming anyone.

Rasheed was arrested in 2019 and charged by the National Investigation Agency under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), becoming the first mainstream politician to be booked under the stringent anti-terror law.

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