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AAP leaders hold collective fast at Delhi's Jantar Mantar to protest against Kejriwal's arrest

Scores of volunteers and supporters of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) took part in the fast, singing patriotic songs and carrying posters bearing an image of Kejriwal behind bars.

AAP leaders hold collective fast at Delhis Jantar Mantar to protest against Kejriwals arrest

AAP leaders Atishi Singh, Ram Niwas Goel and Rakhi Birla (PTI)

NEW DELHI: Top AAP leaders held a daylong fast at Jantar Mantar here on Sunday to protest against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's arrest by the ED and asserted that people will give a fitting reply to the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls for sending him to jail.

Scores of volunteers and supporters of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) took part in the fast, singing patriotic songs and carrying posters bearing an image of Kejriwal behind bars.

Similar protests were held in other states as well as by Indians abroad, including at the Harvard Square in Boston, the Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles, outside the Indian embassy in Washington DC, at the Times Square in New York and in Toronto, London and Melbourne, among other places, AAP leaders said.

Gopal Rai, the convenor of the party's Delhi unit, asserted that Kejriwal will come out of jail and join the country's fight against the "dictatorship" of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre.

The stage in which the AAP leaders were seated during the six-hour fast had an image of Kejriwal behind bars in the backdrop. Portraits of B R Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh flanking Mahatma Gandhi's photo were kept in front of the stage.

Addressing the protesters at Jantar Mantar, the AAP's Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, who was recently granted bail by the Supreme Court in the Delhi excise "scam" case, asserted that "Kejriwal was, is and will remain honest".

Singh questioned Kejriwal's arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money-laundering case linked to the liquor "scam". He claimed that Kejriwal's name was mentioned by just four of the 456 witnesses of the CBI and the ED, the two agencies probing the case. "People know very well under what situation these witnesses named Kejriwal," the AAP leader said.

He asked the AAP volunteers to work harder to ensure the victory of the party candidates and those of the INDIA opposition bloc in the Lok Sabha polls to pave the way for the exit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah from power.

Delhi minister Atishi accused the BJP of resorting to dictatorship and claimed that the fast will give "sleepless nights" to the saffron party. She said there is anger among people over Kejriwal's arrest and it will prove to be the "final nail in the coffin" of the BJP.

"The BJP dictator dreamt of finishing the AAP by sending Kejriwal to jail, but lakhs of Kejriwal have now arisen in the country and the world. Every patriot is ready to respond to your tactic of imprisonment with his vote," she said.

The AAP shared photos of protests held in various cities, including Mumbai, Kolkata Bengaluru and Pune, on its social media handles.

Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and several of his cabinet colleagues in the AAP-ruled Punjab observed a fast at Bhagat Singh's village, Khatkar Kalan.

AAP MLA Sanjeev Jha asserted that Indians living abroad also joined the party's mass fast programme because they believe that India can progress under Kejriwal and they can also have a chance to contribute to it. He alleged that Kejriwal was sent to jail in a "false" case.

At the conclusion of the fast at Jantar Mantar, AAP national general secretary (organisation) Sandeep Pathak said the BJP will be razed by his party in Delhi if it dares to impose president's rule in the national capital.

Rai alleged that Kejriwal's arrest by the ED was part of the BJP's conspiracy to finish the AAP.

Arrested on March 21, Kejriwal will be in judicial custody till April 15.

The fast ended at 5 pm with the participants provided with juice packs by the organisers.

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