Kejriwal appears before CBI, AAP leaders stage protests in city

Ahead of his CBI appearance, Kejriwal asserted that he would truthfully answer all the questions posed and that he has nothing to hide

Security was stepped up at the CBI headquarters with the Delhi Police putting in place four rings of barricading to prevent protests by the Aam Admi Party leaders and supporters. (Source: PTI Photo)
Security was stepped up at the CBI headquarters with the Delhi Police putting in place four rings of barricading to prevent protests by the Aam Admi Party leaders and supporters. (Source: PTI Photo)


Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appeared before the CBI on Sunday for questioning in the excise policy case as party leaders staged protest outside the agency's office and elsewhere in the city.

In a five-minute video message on Twitter ahead of his arrival at the heavily fortified agency headquarters at 11:10 am, Kejriwal claimed that the BJP might have ordered the agency to arrest him.

The AAP leader asserted that he would truthfully and honestly answer questions posed by the CBI in the excise case as he has nothing to hide.

"I have been summoned by CBI today and I will give all the answers with honesty. These people are very powerful. They can send anyone to jail, it does not matter if that person has committed any crime or not," the AAP leader said.

"Since yesterday, all of their leaders are screaming at top of their voices that Kejriwal will be arrested and I think BJP has instructed CBI also that Kejriwal should be arrested. If BJP has given an order, then who is CBI? CBI is going to arrest me," he said. Talking to reporters at his residence before leaving for the CBI office, he said, "I am going to the CBI office, and will answer all questions. After 75 years, such a government came to Delhi which created hope. Development has taken place after 75 years".

Kejriwal was accompanied to the agency's office by his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann and some cabinet colleagues.

After his arrival at the agency headquarters, Kejriwal was taken to the first floor office of the Anti-Corruption Branch of the CBI, which is probing the matter. As Kejriwal's questioning got underway, top AAP leaders, including Mann, Delhi Ministers Saurabh Bharadwaj, Atishi, Kailash Gahlot, Rajya Sabha MPs Sandeep Pathak, Raghav Chadha and Sanjay Singh gathered near the CBI headquarters and raised slogans against the prime minister.

The agency had summoned Kejriwal on Friday last seeking his appearance as a witness before the investigation team to answer their queries on the inputs generated during the probe in which his former deputy Manish Sisodia was also arrested on February 26, they said.

Senior officials of the agency remained present in the office on Sunday to keep an eye on the development, a normal course whenever a VIP comes to the agency, they said.

During the day, which will also include a lunch break, the CBI may ask the chief minister about the policy formulation process, especially the "untraceable" file, which was earlier slated to be put before the Council of Ministers, they said.

They said the file containing opinions of the expert committee and public and legal opinions on it was not kept before the council and remains untraceable.

The agency may also quiz Kejriwal on the statements of other accused, where they have indicated the manner in which policy was allegedly influenced to favour some liquor businessmen and the South liquor lobby, they said.

In addition, the officials said the agency might also seek his role in formulating the excise policy and his knowledge about the alleged influence being cast by the traders and South lobby members.

Kejriwal may also be asked if he was involved in the formulation of the policy before it was given approval, they said.

It is alleged that the Delhi government's excise policy for 2021-22 to grant licences to liquor traders favoured certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it, a charge strongly refuted by the AAP. The policy was later scrapped.

Security was stepped up at the CBI headquarters with the Delhi Police putting in place four rings of barricading to prevent protests by the Aam Admi Party leaders and supporters.

Over 1,000 security personnel, including from paramilitary forces, have been deployed outside the CBI headquarters and section 144 of the CrPC has also been imposed in the area to ensure no gathering of more than four persons takes place, they said.

Security has also been tightened outside the office of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) at Rouse Avenue, the officials said.

Barricades have also been placed on streets at both these places -- AAP office and CBI headquarters -- to ensure the party's workers and supporters do not create any trouble, a senior police official said.

CBI officials have said they asked Kejriwal to appear on a Sunday as the offices in the area remain closed. It had adopted the same strategy when Sisodia was called at the agency's headquarters, where he was grilled for eight hours before being taken into custody.

As AAP workers held protests against the summoning of Chief Minister Kejriwal, traffic snarls were reported in many parts of the national capital.

Traffic jams were witnessed in the protest sites of Anand Vihar Terminal, ITO Chowk, Mukarba Chowk Peera Garhi Chowk, Lado Sarai Chowk, Crown Plaza Chowk, Dwarka More Sec 6 and Sec 2 Chauraha, Pecific Wala Chowk Subhash Nagar More, Prem Wari Chauraha Ring Road, New Delhi Railway Station Ajmeri Gate Side, Bara Hanuman Mandir, Karol Bagh Chowk, IIT Crossing, ISBT Kashmiri Gate, Raj Ghat and NH 24 Near Murga Mandi Gazipur.

Police officials, along with the traffic unit deployed at multiple locations, are persuading protesters to move from the roads and allow traffic.

"We have deployed sufficient force at these locations. But protesters are on a sit-in so we are persuading them to move because they are causing heavy traffic jams. If they are still not cooperating, we are removing them from the spot," a senior police official said. 

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