India strongly objects to US remarks on opposition leader Kejriwal’s arrest

By Thomson Reuters Mar 27, 2024 | 4:51 AM

MUMBAI (Reuters) – India has strongly objected to remarks made by the United States on the arrest of key opposition leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

New Delhi’s objection came two days after Washington said it is closely following reports of Kejriwal’s arrest and that it encourages a fair legal process.

Kejriwal, whose Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) governs the national capital territory and the northern state of Punjab, was arrested last week by the federal financial crime-fighting agency on corruption charges, weeks before India begins voting in general elections on April 19.

AAP, all of whose main leaders are now imprisoned in connection with the case, says he has been “falsely arrested” in a “fabricated case”. The federal government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) deny political interference.

“India’s legal processes are based on an independent judiciary which is committed to objective and timely outcomes. Casting aspersions on that is unwarranted,” the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement.

“In diplomacy, states are expected to be respectful of the sovereignty and internal affairs of others. This responsibility is even more so in case of fellow democracies. It could otherwise end up setting unhealthy precedents,” it said.

Kejriwal’s arrest after the announcement of elections has angered the opposition alliance challenging Modi and drawn international attention.

The U.S. comments on Kejriwal followed those by Germany, which said Berlin assumes and expects that the standards relating to independence of judiciary and basic democratic principles will also be applied in this case.

In response, New Delhi summoned a German envoy to protest against the remarks. The acting U.S. deputy chief of mission in New Delhi was also summoned on Wednesday, news agency ANI reported.

India and the U.S. enjoy close, strategic ties and Washington has increasingly come to see New Delhi as an important partner in its effort to push back against China’s growing power worldwide.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by YP Rajesh)