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Former union minister P Chidambaram arrested amid high drama


New Delhi, Aug 21: Former union minister P Chidambaram was on Wednesday night arrested by the CBI officials in connection with the INX media case. He was first detained and taken to CBI headquarters where he was officially arrested.

Former union minister P Chidambaram arrested amid high drama (Image - PTI)

His detention came amid high drama with CBI officials trying to scale walls of Chidambaram's jor bagh house. Chidambaram, who was thought to have gone missing, addressed a media briefing at Congress headquarters in the evening after which he left for his house in Jor Bagh. CNI officers then arrived there. When, as per reports, the doors were not opened, the CBI officials tried to scale walls.

Both top investigative agencies of the country, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED), have issued a Look-Out Notice against him.

[INX Media case: SC to hear Chidambaram's bail plea on Friday]

Despite Chidambaram's legal team led by Congress leader Kapil Sibal making several attempts for an immediate hearing, the Supreme Court today listed the anticipatory bail plea hearing of former finance minister for August 23.

Sibal mentioned the petition twice before Justice NV Ramana earlier in the day but was told to approach Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on both occasions. The Chief Justice didn't issue any orders till late evening, reportedly because there were some formalities to be completed, reports said.

[Thought to be 'missing' P Chidambaram finally appears, says not an accused]

Meanwhile, the CBI has issued a Look Out Circular against the former finance minister to prevent him from leaving the country, PTI reported. The agency has alerted all the airports to prevent Chidambaram from boarding a flight, they said, adding the circular was issued recently. The ED has also issued a fresh lookout circular against him in connection with the INX Media money laundering case.

The Delhi High Court had on Tuesday refused to grant any protection from arrest to Chidambaram in the INX Media case, following which the CBI issued a notice to him asking him to appear before the investigation officer "within two hours" after failing to find him at his residence.

Here's what transpired at P Chidambaram's Jor Bagh residence on Wednesday evening:

The CBI which was looking for 73-year old Chidambaram since Tuesday after his anticipatory bail application was rejected by the Delhi High Court managed to get a whiff of his location only when he appeared on camera at the Congress headquarters in the evening to make a press statement. Rejecting reports of his evading the law, he told reporters that the charges against him and his son were "nothing further from truth".

[When CJI left the court, without saying a word to Chidambaram's legal team]

Flanked by senior Supreme Court lawyers and party colleagues Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Chidambaram said he was working with his lawyers through the last night, preparing his papers for his bail application, which was filed before the Supreme Court earlier. The sleuths rushed to the party office, but by the time they reached, Chidambaram had already left for his residence 115-A in Jorbagh, a 10-minute distance from the party office, in a luxury sedan accompanied with his lawyers and party colleagues -- Singhvi and Sibal.

[A six point explainer of the INX Media case]

Leaving no stones unturned to avoid an embarrassing situation of Tuesday when the agency failed to locate him at his bungalow, the CBI team made a strong presence today with about two dozens officers swarming the place. With a big media contingent beaming live images of the developments, the CBI team first knocked the gates to gain entry but finding no response, they nimbly scaled the nearly five-ft high walls to gain entry. Once three officers reached inside, they opened the gates to allow entry to other team members waiting outside. Soon a team of officers, identifying themselves as from ED, too arrived at the scene.

A team of about two dozen officials remained on guard at the bungalow when Chidambaram was inside with Sibal and Singhvi. After completing arrest formalities, the CBI team had to wade through Congress supporters who had gathered outside raising slogans against the agency. Some supporters jumped on the white car in which Chidambaram was being taken to the agency headquarters.

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