Pawan Khera gets interim bail from Delhi court, Congress terms his arrest ‘arbitrary, dictatorial’

New Delhi/Raipur, February 24 (ANI): Congress leader Pawan Khera was granted interim bail by a court in Delhi’s Dwarka on Thursday after orders of the Supreme Court following his arrest earlier in the day by Assam Police for alleged remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Congress attacked the Modi government over Khera’s arrest, saying he was held on "totally baseless" charges and detained "without providing any copy of the FIR, an arrest warrant, or a production warrant from the concerned magistrate".

The police action came as leaders of Congress were going for the party’s three-day plenary beginning on Friday in Chhattisgarh’s capital Raipur.

Congress said that Khera was "deplaned" while he was with a group of party leaders on a flight by a private airline. The Congress leaders held a protest on the tarmac. They raised slogans against the government. The videos showed Congress leaders raising slogans including "tanashahi nahi chalegi" and "Modi teri kabar khudegi".

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court directed the Dwarka Court to grant interim bail to Pawan Khera and issued notice to Assam Police and Uttar Pradesh Police on his plea seeking clubbing of FIRs.

Supreme Court said that till the next date of hearing, the petitioner will be released on interim bail by Dwarka court .

Khera, who is chairman of the Congress Media and Publicity Department, earlier said he is "ready to fight the long battle".

"We will see (in which case they are taking me). It’s a long battle and I’m ready to fight," said Khera as Delhi Police took him after he was deboarded from an aircraft at Delhi airport.

Delhi Police said that a request was received from Assam Police for assistance in the arrest of Pawan Khera in an FIR registered in the Haflong district of Assam.

"Based upon the same, requisite local assistance was provided and upon the requisition of Assam Police, accused Shri Pawan Khera was detained from Terminal 1 of IGI Airport and has been subsequently arrested by the IO concerned of Assam Police," a Delhi Police official told ANI.

Dwarka granted Khera interim bail on Thursday evening.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) Archana Beniwal granted interim bail to Khera on furnishing a bond of Rs. 30,000.

The court while granting the relief also imposed some conditions.

The court granted the relief after considering the order passed by the Supreme Court earlier in the day. It was received through email at around 6 pm.

The court granted the relief after hearing the submissions made by Randeep Surjewala and the Assam police. Assam police had sought Khera’s transit remand.

Congress leader Randeep Surjewala submitted to the court that Assam police had not complied with the guidelines of the Arnesh Kumar case. He submitted that the grounds of arrest have not been provided and communicated.

"I am the pairokar of the person being detained by the police. The matter was taken up today by the Chief Justice of India (CJI). CJI passed an order stating that the person be released on interim bail. CJI was very gracious to pass the order," he said.

In a video shared on Congress’s Twitter handle, Pawan Khera said that he does not know why was he deboarded.

"I don’t know. I was told that your baggage has to be checked. I said I do not have any luggage except a handbag. When I came down, I was told that I cannot go, a DCP would come," he said.

Khera said after he was released on interim bail that he was deboarded from the aircraft and arrested by Assam Police in an illegal manner.

"Without furnishing a copy of FIR and notice, I was deboarded from the aircraft and arrested by Assam Police in an illegal manner. I have complete trust in the judicial system which protected my freedom of expression today," he said.

Khera said that he would strengthen the efforts of his leader Rahul Gandhi to protect this nation and protect constitutional values.

"Our struggle to protect this nation, protect constitutional values — my leader Rahul Gandhi is carrying on his struggle fearlessly, I will strengthen his efforts," he said.

Congress leaders including party chief Mallikarjun Kharge, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and party leader Shashi Tharoor slammed Khera’s arrest"That was shocking and outrageous. Nothing Pawan (Khera) did or said warranted deplaning, arrest, or detention. Glad SC has given him bail. There is no reason to jail someone for a joke. We don’t have a law here that you can’t make jokes about the PM," Tharoor said.

Kharge accused the BJP government of "harassing" Khera and said that the Supreme Court order "is a tight slap" on the government’s face.

"The BJP government tried to harass Pawan Khera. I am happy with SC’s order, it’s a tight slap on their face. I condemn this action by BJP. In Parliament also, we were stopped from raising issues. They are trying to eliminate freedom of speech. Democracy is under threat," said Kharge.

"When Congress plenary session is happening in Chhattisgarh, our leaders are being raided by ED and I-T. They (BJP) want to stop this session from happening but the people of Chhattisgarh along with the government here are working towards conducting this session," he added.

Kharge alleged that the Modi government has turned "India’s democracy into a ‘Hitlershahi’".

"Notice is given if the opposition raises issues in Parliament. ED raids are conducted on our leaders of Chhattisgarh before the plenary session. Today the media chairman was forcibly taken off the plane and arrested. The Modi government has turned India’s democracy into a ‘Hitlershahi’. We strongly condemn this dictatorship," Kharge tweeted in Hindi.

The Congress later issued a statement stating that Khera’s arrest was arbitrary, dictatorial and on baseless charges.

In a strongly worded statement, party general secretary KC Venugopal said Khera’s arrest was "arbitrary and dictatorial and yet another cowardly attempt" to derail the 85th AICC Plenary being held in Raipur.

Khera was granted interim bail by a Dwarka court and the Congress thanked Supreme Court of India for being the voice of reason "in these testing times".

Venugopal said a group of INC leaders were travelling on a flight and Pawan Khera was deplaned and informed that the Assam Police will be arresting him.

"He was arrested on totally baseless charges, which were only trumped up because Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scared of being questioned on his relationship with Gautam Adani," Venugopal said.

"This charade is not going to deter us from raising questions about the manner in which the Modi government has systematically favoured the Adani group and is conspicuously silent on allegations of stock rigging, over valuation and benami money being pushed through a web of shell companies against the Adani Group of companies," he added.

Venugopal said the Enforcement Directorate had earlier raided Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh, "clearly timed to intimidate our Chhattisgarh unit during the crucial planning stage of the plenary".

"The BJP is totally misguided if it believes that such laughable intimidation tactics are going to dissuade us from exposing its corruption and misgovernance. Pawan Khera is one of the most articulate voices of our party, who has consistently opposed and questioned the flawed policies and divisive agenda of the Modi government," he said.

Venugopal said the party stands with Khera and "strongly denounce the high handedness of the government".

The Congress said that ‘Haath Se Haath Jodo AICC Plenary’ will give a new vision to the country "and start the countdown for the end of BJP’s misrule at the Centre".

"We are all geared up for this historic occasion, and no force can stop us from our mission," Venugopal said.

The BJP had accused Khera of mocking the Prime Minister and his father while talking to the media on the Adani issue. Khera later claimed he "genuinely got confused" over PM Modi’s middle name. (ANI)