Pawan Khera’s arrest stirs controversy

Pawan Khera's arrest at Delhi Airport by the Assam Police has stirred a controversy and brought the opposition parties together against BJP.

Pawan Khera’s arrest stirs controversy

Congress leader Pawan Khera’s arrest at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport in a controversial manner irked the opposition camp and drew flak from them. 

Khera was deboarded from a Delhi-Raipur flight (IndiGo flight 6E204) on Thursday, February 23rd when a delegation was headed from Delhi to Raipur. Raipur is scheduled to host the 85th plenary of the Congress from Friday, February 24th. Supriya Shrinate, Randeep Singh Surjewala and KC Venugopal were the other Congress leaders accompanying Khera. 

When asked, Khera replied, “I don’t know why I have been de-planed. I was told that they need to check my baggage, I told them that I only have a handbag, but they still insisted that I leave the plane”. He also said, “I have now been told that the DCP will meet me on tarmac.” The Congress leader was later arrested by the Assam Police, who showed documents and took him into custody. 

The ANI reported that the Assam Police informed reporters that a case has been registered against Khera at Halflong police station in the Dima Hasao district. They had contacted the Delhi Police over Khera’s arrest. 

After Pawan Khera’s arrest, the Congress party took no time to condemn it and label it an authoritarian move to suppress the opposition. The party’s national spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said, “This is nothing but a rattled government and its high-handedness”. 

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot likened the country’s political situation to the Emergency, “Today the situation in the country is worse than the Emergency. There is an emergency-like situation in the country without declaring it. His arrest has defamed our country all over the world. Nothing can be more unfortunate than this, that is why we say democracy is in danger and the Constitution is being torn to shreds. This pride of theirs will not work, the public will destroy their pride”.

The seemingly aggrieved Congress tweeted, “This is a dictatorial attitude. The dictator got ED raids done and now he has come down to this kind of act”. The Congress indicated the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) raids on Wednesday, February 22nd, at the offices related to three departments of the Chhattisgarh government in a money  laundering case linked to the alleged coal levy scam in the state.

IndiGo officials commented that they were instructed not to allow Khera to board as he faced a case. During a press conference, Khera recently took a jibe at the Bharatiya Janata Party-led (BJP) government’s alleged support for industrialist Gautam Adani and its inaction over the Hindenburg Research’s report. While addressing, he satirically fumbled the prime minister’s name and referred to him as “Narendra Gautamdas Modi” instead of Narendra Damodardas Modi. The BJP had demanded Khera’s arrest after the incident pointing at the alleged insult to the prime minister. 

Congress moved the Supreme Court after Khera’s arrest. Khera’s party colleague AM Singhvi mentioned the matter before Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud. The SC said interim bail should be granted to Khera, citing that his mocking violated no penal code. Delhi’s Dwarka Court would grant the bail. 

Besides the Congress, the anti-BJP opposition also criticised Khera’s arrest. Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav said, “ruling party has no faith in law, constitution and democracy”. 

Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackrey) leader Sanjay Raut also launched a scathing attack on the ruling party and said, “They wanted to make big news, so they arrested Pawan Khera. Also, 24 hours before the Congress session in Chhattisgarh, CM’s close aides, and Congress leaders were raided by ED & CBI. They’re choking Opposition parties. This is an emergency only.”

According to political analysts, the incident (Pawan Khera’s arrest) potentially dragged all the opposition parties to a common dais against the alleged authoritarian and coercive methods employed by the  BJP. Now it is to be seen whether the opposition bloc could raise its voice against the alleged suppression and earn the political dividend.

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