Chidambaram arrested by CBI

P Chidambaram

New Delhi, Aug 21: High drama preceded the arrest of senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram as officials of the CBI scaled the walls of his Jor Bagh residence here, minutes after his press conference at the party headquarters where he said he was "not hiding from the law but seeking protection of the law".

After the press conference, as soon as Chidambaram returned to his house, officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate were present at his house, a 10-minute drive away from Akbar Road, only to find the gate locked. CBI officers then jumped over the boundary wall while another team of agency officials entered the house from the back door.

Delhi Police personnel blocked access to Chidambaram's house, even as milling media persons tried to get a better view of the happenings inside.

Later, a CBI team arrived in a car to take the senior Congress leader into custody.

The otherwise quiet neighbourhood saw slogan shouting and a minor scuffle between a small group of Chidamabaram supporters who roughed up a person who allegedly made some unsavoury remarks against the former minister.

The entire operation was swiftly executed within half an hour of his arrival in Jor Bagh.

Once inside, the CBI team completed the formalities of Chidambaram's arrest in the presence of his team of lawyers.

Chidambaram was driven to the CBI headquarters in a white car, with him seated in the middle and CBI personnel on either side.

Sources said CBI Director Rishi Kumar Shukla himself was present at the headquarters along with top officers for the questioning of the former Union Minister.

Earlier, Chidambaram made a dramatic entry into the Congress office, claiming he was not hiding from the law but seeking its protection.

"I was aghast that I was accused of hiding from the law. On the contrary, I was seeking the protection of the law. I was accused of running away from justice.On the contrary, I was engaged in the pursuit of justice," Chidambaram told reporters.

He said he would wait till Friday, when the Supreme Court had decided to hear his plea against his arrest.

"In the INX media case, I have not been accused of any offence, nor is anyone else, including any member of my family been accused of any offence. In fact, there is no charge sheet filed by either the CBI or the ED before a competent court. And statements recorded by the CBI does not impute to me any wrongdoing. Yet there is a widespread impression that grave offences have been committed, and my son and I have committed those offences.

"Nothing can be further from the truth. These are lies spread by pathological liars. When I was summoned by the CBI and then the ED to appear for questioning, I naturally sought interim protection against the arrest from the competent court. I was granted interim protection. I have enjoyed the interim protection for the last 13-15 months. The matters were finally heard.

"I was not hiding but I was working alongside my lawyers throughout the night and today to prepare the papers. We completed the task only this morning.

"My lawyers have told me that despite their impassioned pleas, the cases were not listed today, nor will they be listed tomorrow, but will only be listed on Friday. I bow down to the orders of the Supreme Court.

"Between now and Friday I shall walk with a clear conscience and my head held high. I shall respect the law even if it is applied with an unequal hand by the investigating agencies," he said.

"In the name of freedom I can only hope and pray that the investigating agencies will respect the law. In the present circumstances, respect for law can only mean one thing: wait the decision of the Supreme Court on Friday.

"Some days ago when Ispoke in Parliament, I had said that every judge in this country will uphold the liberty of a citizen. I had said that the collective conscience and the institutional memory of the court as a venerable institution will guide all judges of the country as much as I believe in liberty.I also believe in the wisdom of our judges. So friends, until Friday and beyond. There is hope that the lamp of liberty will shine bright and illuminate the whole country," he added.

His son, Karti Chidambaram, thanked the Congress party for its support to his father and slammed the "drama and spectacle" being enacted by the probe agencies was for the "voyeuristic pleasure of some".

"The drama and spectacle being enacted by the agencies is to simply sensationalise and satisfy the voyeuristic pleasure of some," he tweeted as CBI and ED officials scaled the boundary wall of the Jor Bagh residence of his father to arrest him.

"I am thankful to the @INCIndia Shri @RahulGandhi, @priyankagandhi, for their support. And ever grateful to @KapilSibal, @DrAMSinghvi, @salman7khurshid, Afor being there with us throughout.

"I have been raided 4 times. Appeared for over 20 summons. Each session for a minimum of 10 to 12 hours. Been a "guest" of the CBI:) for 12 days. There is still no chargesheet for alleged events which apparently took place in 2008 and a FIR in 2017. There is no case," he said in a series of tweets.

On January 25, the Delhi High Court reserved order on Chidambaram's bail plea in the case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The agencies had opposed Chidambaram's bail plea, saying his custodial interrogation was necessary as he was evasive and had given false information during questioning.

The high court had on Tuesday rejected the bail plea.

IANS

Photo: Google Image