[dropcap]S[/dropcap]ENIOR Congress leader P Chidambaram—who was taken into custody by a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team last night—will be produced before a special CBI court in New Delhi on Thursday.
He was arrested soon after he reached his Jor Bagh residence after showing up at a brief media conference at Congress Headquarters. During the press conference he denied that he was in hiding. “On the contrary, I was seeking the protection of the law.”
Following the rejection of his plea by the Delhi High Court, his Special Leave Petition demanding interim protection from arrest in INX Media case was not cleared by the Supreme Court registry on Wednesday morning. Earlier, a bench headed by senior-most judge Justice NV Ramana had referred the plea back to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. He had fixed Friday to list his petition for hearing.
The 73-year-old leader is a member of Rajya Sabha, is a former Union Finance Minister and former Union Home Minister.
Before he was taken away in a car to CBI headquarters, dramatic scenes were witnessed at his residence with officers of the CBI scaling walls to gain entry inside the house.
Chidambaram, according to media reports, has been kept in the suit No. 5 of the CBI Guest House on the ground floor of the agency headquarters. He will be produced before a special CBI court today, where the agency will seek his remand.
The investigation agencies were chasing him since Tuesday evening for “custodial interrogation.” Both CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had issued lookout circulars to prevent him from leaving the country.
Sharply reacting, Congress communications department in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala termed his arrest a “shameless witch-hunt” and said, “democracy stands dead at the hands of BJP”.
Earlier, party leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi also tweeted in support of Chidambaram. “Modi’s Govt is using the ED, CBI and sections of a spineless media to character assassinate Chidambaram. I strongly condemn this disgraceful misuse of power,” Rahul Gandhi said.
Similarly, Priyanka Gandhi said Chidambaram was an “extremely qualified and respected member of the Rajya Sabha” and has served the nation with loyalty for decades. “He unhesitatingly speaks truth to power and exposes the failures of this government, but the truth is inconvenient to cowards so he is being shamefully hunted down. We stand by him and will continue to fight for the truth no matter what the consequences are.”
Shashi Tharoor also came out in support of Chidambaram. Referring to a remark made by Chidambaram in an interview, he wrote on Twitter: “It is a tribute to your strength of character that you are standing up to persecution and character assassination with courage and confidence. I believe justice will prevail in the end. Till then we will have to allow some malicious minds their schadenfreude,” he said.
Describing the arrest of his father as an “act of political vendetta”, Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram alleged that it was being done to divert attention from Article 370.