A senior member of India’s main opposition Congress party has been arrested for allegedly insulting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Pawan Khera was arrested at Delhi Airport, where he was forced off a plane on Thursday alongside other party members, after he called Modi “Narendra Gautamdas Modi” - an apparent reference to embattled business magnate Gautam Adani.
Adani, one of the wealthiest people in the world, saw his net worth halved in less than two weeks last month after a report by financial research and short seller firm Hindenburg Research leveled allegations of stock market manipulation and fraud against the Adani Group. The Adani Group condemned the report as “baseless” and “malicious.”
Adani is seen as a close ally of Modi.
In recent months, Modi has been accused of silencing his critics after the country banned a documentary from the BBC that was critical of the prime minister’s alleged role in deadly riots more than 20 years ago.
Indian tax authorities raided the BBC’s offices in New Delhi and Mumbai earlier this month citing “irregularities and discrepancies” in the BBC’s taxes. The BBC defended its documentary and said it was complying with the tax investigation.
Police from the state of Assam said they had deployed a team to New Delhi to arrest Khera for questioning after a case was registered on Wednesday for his “objectionable remarks about the Prime Minister.”
“[Khera] was trying to disturb the communal harmony in the society, sections of the Indian Penal Code under criminal conspiracy,” Prasanta Kumar Bhuyan, Assam police spokesperson, told CNN.
On Thursday, India’s Supreme Court ordered Khera to be released on interim bail. CNN has not yet been able to reach Khera and his lawyers.
The Congress party labeled Khera’s arrest as “undemocratic,” saying in a statement, “We vehemently oppose this dictatorial behavior.”