The AAP on Saturday alleged that the arrest of its MLA Amanatullah Khan was part of BJP’s efforts to poach Arvind Kejriwal-led party’s legislators and topple its government in Delhi under “Operation Lotus”.
The Aam Aadmi Party legislator from Okhla was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Branch on Friday in connection with alleged irregularities in Delhi Waqf Board recruitment, officials said. Khan is the chairman of Delhi Waqf Board.
“Looks like they are suffering a lot in Gujarat,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a tweet in Hindi in an apparent attack on the BJP.
He also anticipated the arrest of more MLAs of his party in the coming days.
“First, they arrested (Delhi health minister) Satyendar Jain. They are not able to present any evidence despite the court repeatedly asking for it. Then, Manish’s residence was raided, nothing was found there. Now, Amanatullah has been arrested. More MLAs will now be arrested,” the AAP national convenor said in his tweet. Reacting to Khan’s arrest, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia accused the BJP of continuing with its “Operation Lotus” to “break” AAP leaders away from the party.
“First, they arrested Satyendar Jain but there is no evidence against him in court. They raided my residence. Nothing was found. Then they initiated a fake probe against Kailash Gahlot, and now they have arrested Amanatullah Khan. Operation Lotus continues to break each leader of AAP,” Sisodia said in a tweet in Hindi.
Chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj lashed out at the BJP over Khan’s arrest and accused the Anti-Corruption Branch of “planting” misleading news in the media about the Waqf Board chairman at the behest of the saffron party.
He said Khan has been arrested in a case registered in January 2020.
“Probe agencies are only batting for the BJP so that the saffron party trolls can spread lies (on social media), showing wads of currencies and firearms. This is what the ACB is preparing for. This is what the CBI and ED does,” he charged.
The Delhi Police on Saturday said it has arrested Khan’s close aide Hamid Ali following recovery of Rs 12 lakh in cash, one unlicensed weapon and some cartridges from his residence during a raid conducted by the ACB on Friday. The ACB had raided four premises, including the residences of Ali and Khan, on Friday in connection with alleged irregularities in the recruitment to the Delhi Waqf Board.
According to the police, three FIRs were registered after the ACB raid.
While one of the three FIRs was registered against Ali (54), a resident of Jamia Nagar, the second FIR was registered against Kaushar Imam Siddique, a resident of Jogabai Extension, under the Arms Act after a country-made pistol and three live rounds were recovered from his premises as well, police said.
Siddique is evading arrest, a police officer said.
The third FIR has been registered for obstructing ACB officials in discharging their duty, the police said.
The ACB alleged that its team was attacked by Khan’s relatives and other people known to the MLA when they reached his residence to arrest him on Friday.
In all, Rs 24 lakh in cash and two unlicensed weapons were seized during the raids conducted on Friday, the ACB said.
“The ACB did not find any cash, arms, gold or benami property or anything illegal while raiding both the houses of Khan but it planted a fake news in the media that its raiding team found cash and firearms at the MLA’s house,” AAP spokesperson Bharadwaj said.
At the press conference, he also played a video of the ACB raid at Khan’s residence to support his claim that nothing was recovered from his place and the raiding team left his house “satisfied”, thanking his family members for the cooperation.
“How can they call Ali and Siddique partners of Amanatullah Khan when he don’t have any business? How can they link recovery of cash and firearms from them with Khan?,” he also asked.
Bharadwaj alleged that “an organised campaign” is being run by the BJP to defame AAP.
“The BJP has been misusing the probe agencies. Earlier, they fraudulently associated Satyendar Jain’s photo with gold and cash found at some jeweller’s house. In their desperation of framing Sisodia, the CBI has raided 100 locations till date.” he charged.