Indian court extends detention of jailed Modi rival Arvind Kejriwal

Jail officials allow insulin jab after Delhi chief minister’s blood sugar spikes

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Tuesday 23 April 2024 13:08 BST
Delhi’s top elected official arrested over liquor bribery claims

A court in India has extended the pre-trial detention of leading opposition leader Arvind Kejriwal until 7 May in an alleged corruption case.

Mr Kejriwal, chief minister of Delhi state and head of Aam Aadmi Party (common man’s party), is accused of accepting bribes to favour certain private retailers in a now-scrapped liquor policy.

He was arrested on 21 March by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), an agency controlled by prime minister Narendra Modi’s federal government.

Mr Kerjriwal, who has been lodged in the notorious Tihar Jail in Delhi, has denied wrongdoing.

His arrest, just weeks before the national elections, sparked a backlash from opposition parties that denounced the move as political vendetta by the Modi administration.

File: Arvind Kejriwal speaks during a public rally in Guwahati
File: Arvind Kejriwal speaks during a public rally in Guwahati (AFP via Getty)

Mr Kejriwal was on Wednesday produced through video conferencing before special judge Kaveri Baweja, who extended his custody.

Mr Kejriwal had been administered an insulin jab on Monday night after a court rejected his plea asking for Tihar Jail authorities to let him virtually consult a doctor for 15 minutes daily.

He was given a low-dose insulin jab after his blood sugar spiked to 320mg/dL, more than double the normal range of 70-100mg/dL.

The injection came after the court ordered doctors from Delhi’s Aiims hospital to determine Mr Kejriwal’s medication.

Mr Kejriwal, a diabetic, has criticised the Tihar authorities for failing to provide him with insulin despite multiple requests.

The chief minister, in a letter to prison authorities on Monday, claimed he had been demanding insulin for 10 days. "I showed my high sugar levels to every doctor who came to see me," Mr Kejriwal said.

"Almost every day, I demanded insulin. Then how could you make such a statement that I never raised the issue of insulin?”

The ED last week accused Mr Kejriwal of eating mangoes, sweets and drinking tea with added sugar to deliberately spike his blood sugar in a bid to create grounds for his bail.

“He is consciously consuming items like tea with sugar, banana, sweets (one or two pieces), poori, aloo sabzi (potato curry with fried bread), on a regular basis, despite being a patient of diabetes mellitus type 2 and knowing very well that consumption of such items results in an increase in blood sugar,” the agency told had judge Bajwa.

Mr Kejriwal’s party refuted the allegations, saying the federal agency was resorting to fabrications in order to keep the chief minister from receiving home-cooked food.

"Today it is clear that the chief minister was right, he needed insulin. But the officials under the Bharatiya Janata Party’s central government were deliberately not treating him," Delhi minister Saurabh Bharadwaj said on Wednesday.

Mr Kejriwal is among three leaders of his party who have been arrested on corruption charges.

He is also the first serving chief minister to be arrested in independent India.

His arrest deepened fears of a constitutional crisis under the Modi government and sparked protests in Delhi and the northern state of Punjab, which is also ruled by Mr Kejriwal’s party.

It also drew the attention of the United States and Germany, both of which called for a free and fair election in India.

Mr Kejriwal’s party is contesting the ongoing elections as part of the 27-party opposition alliance called INDIA, but early opinion polls favour Mr Modi’s ruling BJP.

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