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Indian opposition protest in capital over Kejriwal’s arrest ahead of polls

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Top leaders of India’s opposition coalition and thousands of supporters have rallied in the capital, decrying “autocracy” in protest against the arrest of a senior colleague ahead of the general election.

Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of Delhi and a key leader in an opposition alliance formed to challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was arrested and jailed earlier in March in connection with a long-running corruption probe.

Kejriwal’s government is accused of receiving kickbacks while handing out liquor licences to private companies. A court on Thursday extended Kejriwal’s custody until April 1.

Kejriwal, 55, denies the charges. His Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) says the liquor policy case is fabricated and politically motivated.

India’s main financial investigation agency, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which arrested Kejriwal, has launched probes into at least four other state chief ministers or their family members. Almost all the investigations involve political opponents of Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Several leaders of the two dozen political parties of the INDIA opposition alliance – the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance – addressed the rally.

“The country is headed towards autocracy,” Shiv Sena party leader Uddhav Thackeray, a former chief minister of Maharashtra state, told cheering crowds on Sunday. “This one-man government is taking the country to ruin.”

The flag-waving crowd at Sunday’s rally also held up posters showing Kejriwal behind bars, with large numbers of police watching.

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