Home English News India’s opposition parties hold protests against probe on Agency Chief’s removal

India’s opposition parties hold protests against probe on Agency Chief’s removal

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NEW DELHI — India’s main opposition Congress party on Friday held massive protests across Delhi and in several other parts of the country against the “illegal” removal of the head of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), reported Xinhua news agency.

In the national capital, the protests were led by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi who marched towards the CBI headquarters and then courted arrest, along with leaders of some other Indian opposition parties, including Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party.

“Congress President, Rahul Gandhi & other leaders arrested,” Congress spokesman R. S. Surjewala tweeted as local media beamed footage of the Nehru-Gandhi scion and other opposition leaders being bundled into a vehicle and taken to a nearby police station.

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Delhi police later denied that Gandhi was arrested. “He has only been brought to the police station for staging protests and blocking traffic,” a police official said.

Moments after Gandhi emerged from the police station, he addressed the media. “The government can arrest me as many times as it wants but our protests will continue. We will protest against corruption,” he said.

Similar protests were led by senior Congress leaders outside CBI offices in other parts of the country, as well.

The Congress party has been up in arms against the Indian Government’s interference in the functioning of CBI, the premier probe agency, since CBI director Alok Verma and his deputy were sent on forced leave a few days ago after both traded allegations of bribery against each other.

Gandhi has termed Verma’s removal as a “disgraceful and unconstitutional attempt” by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pre-empt a probe into his government’s alleged role in a deal to acquire Rafale fighter jets from France, an allegation denied by the government as “false”.

Meanwhile, the country’s Supreme Court this morning ordered the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the country’s highest anti-graft body, to complete the corruption probe against the CBI chief within two weeks and that too, under the supervision of a retired judge.

“We make it clear that the introspect or supervision of the ongoing enquiry by a former judge is a one-time exception felt necessary by this court on the peculiar facts of this case and does not reflect on the functioning of the CVC,” Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi-led bench said.

The legal direction came in the wake of a plea by Verma in the Supreme Court against his compulsory leave as the CBI director enjoys a fixed tenure of two years.

In his plea, he said the probe agency was handling sensitive cases, including against his deputy.

“The court will take a call in the case only after completion of the probe by the highest anti-graft body. The court has also barred the interim CBI director from taking any policy decision till the next date of hearing in November,” a lawyer said.

The general election is due next year and the issue of the removal of CBI director is gradually snowballing into a major controversy.

— BERNAMA