Some of the protesters were detained and pushed into around a dozen police buses when they tried to climb the barricades and insisted on going ahead with the march
Police put up barricades and deployed additional forces to prevent Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) from taking out a march to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headquarters to protest against deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia’s arrest a day earlier in connection with the alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped 2021-22 liquor policy. Some of the protesters were detained and pushed into around a dozen police buses when they tried to climb the barricades and insisted on going ahead with the march.
Saurabh Bhardwaj, who was wearing handcuffs and among the AAP leaders leading the protest, said every day false cases were being filed against their leaders. “If they are not finding evidence, they are putting people in jails.” He said Sisodia has been arrested without evidence. “We are not going to be afraid, and we want to tell Prime Minister Narendra Modi that we are fearless,” said Bhardwaj as the protest continued at AAP headquarters.
The protesters raised slogans against Modi calling him a “tyrant”. Police earlier told the protesters that the Code of Criminal Procedure’s Section 144 has been imposed in the area that prevents the gathering of over four people. AAP lawmaker Atishi said police barged into their office and tried to detain their leaders and called this the height of BJP’s dictatorship. About 1,500 police and paramilitary personnel or 12 companies were deployed for additional security in view of AAP’s call for protests as Sisodia’s arrest escalated the tussle between the AAP and BJP.
Bharadwaj earlier claimed around 80% of AAP leaders, including Member of Parliament Sanjay Singh and minister Gopal Rai, were under detention. He called the detentions illegal and suggestive of an Emergency-like situation. “Almost 80% of leaders of AAP have been arrested apart from Manish Sisodia. The central government says that they have been detained. Detention is done for a few hours, but AAP leaders have been detained for over 24 hours. It is illegal.”
He added police should have produced them in court and explained under what laws have they been arrested. “The AAP leaders spent the night in police custody. Our district in charges and local leaders have also been arrested. It is a very dangerous sign. It reflects what was done during the Emergency. We seek answers from the central government on what basis have they been arrested.” Singh and Rai were among those detained while they were protesting outside the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) headquarters on Sunday as Sisodia was being questioned before his arrest. AAP claimed they have not been released yet. There was no immediate response from the Delhi Police.
The Delhi Police enhanced security, especially outside the headquarters of AAP and CBI ahead of Sisodia’s court appearance. “Six of these  companies have been deployed outside the AAP office and the remaining six at other sensitive locations such as the CBI headquarters and Civil Lines,” said a police officer, who did not want to be named. The AAP called for the protest march from its office to that of the BJP on Deen Dayal Upadhyay (DDU) Marg at 12 noon. “Hence we have deployed enough police personnel outside the office to ensure there is no law and order situation,” said a second police officer, requesting anonymity.
The Delhi Traffic Police issued an advisory saying traffic will remain affected on DDU Marg in the carriageway from Minto Road towards ITO and vice-versa due to special traffic arrangements. “Commuters are advised to avoid this stretch,” the advisory said. Vehicular movement was expected to be affected in central parts of the city throughout the day. BJP’s headquarters is located within a walking distance from AAP’s office on DDU Marg in central Delhi.
The Delhi Police barricaded multiple locations to prevent the march. The Rouse Avenue Court, where Sisodia was produced, is also located on the DDU Marg. Security was also been increased on the court premises. All state units of AAP were also been asked to hold protests. Bharadwaj said they wanted to hold a peaceful protest outside BJP headquarters because the central government was trying to suppress AAP.
He added there was no need to arrest Sisodia. “He did not run away in the last 10 months, nor did he destroy any evidence. Then how was he supposed to do it now [run away or destroy evidence]? They [CBI] claim that there was corruption in the formulation of the excise policy. The policy was approved by former LG [ Lieutenant Governor] Anil Baijal who also notified the policy.” He questioned why the CBI did not question Baijal. “AAP is being subjected to injustice by the central government,” said Bharadwaj.
BJP leader Ramvir Singh Bidhuri said chief minister Arvind Kejriwal should immediately sack Sisodia and Satyendar Jain, who was arrested earlier in a separate case, from the Cabinet. “Satyendar Jain is behind bars for nine months in a money laundering case, and Sisodia has been arrested on the basis of solid evidence for scam in excise policy. Despite that Kejriwal, who came into politics claiming to have zero tolerance against corruption, has not removed… [Jain and Sisodia] from the Cabinet yet. It means that Kejriwal was also involved in the scam. Kejriwal should also resign from his post.” Sisodia is the second and the senior-most minister of the Delhi government to be arrested. He and Kejriwal said the arrest was in the offing as part of BJP’s political plot against AAP.
Sisodia was summoned for questioning on Sunday before his arrest. Kejriwal maintained Sisodia was innocent and called his arrest dirty politics. He said there is a lot of anger among the people and they will respond. The AAP staged a show of strength ahead of Sisodia’s arrest with a roadshow. Before his questioning, Sisodia said false cases were being lodged against leaders of AAP as Modi was “afraid” of Kejriwal. Sisodia was arrested under sections of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to criminal conspiracy and fraud and the Prevention of Corruption Act. The 2021-22 liquor policy was scrapped when lieutenant governor VK Saxena asked for an investigation over alleged irregularities. AAP has rejected the charges. Sisodia has not been named in three charge sheets in the case even as he is the primary accused in the First Investigation Report.
Federal agencies have claimed Sisodia was the architect of the now-scrapped excise policy and ₹100 crore alleged kickbacks were paid to favour certain liquor manufacturers and wholesalers. A part of kickbacks allegedly meant for AAP leaders was used for the Goa assembly election campaign last year.