The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday accused the Punjab police of 'abducting' its leader Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, and alleged that Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal is pursuing vendetta through the state police.
Rejecting the BJP charges of political vendetta, the AAP claimed that Bagga has been arrested for trying to stoke communal tension and violence in the border state.
Addressing a press conference, Delhi BJP leaders, including its state unit president Adesh Gupta, slammed Kejriwal and said Bagga had been picked up for 'unmasking' his lies.
The Delhi chief minister had claimed that his party will get back at those targeting it once it gets control over police, Gupta said.
"It is said that if you want to see someone's real face, give that person power. The real character and face of Kejriwal has now come to the fore," he said.
He also alleged that Bagga was insulted by the Punjab police personnel as they did not allow him to wear his turban and roughed up his father.
BJP leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa alleged that a Sikh, a reference to Bagga, has been "insulted" despite Punjab having a Sikh chief minister in Bhagwant Mann.
Kejriwal is taking Punjab back to the politics of 1980s which was marred by militancy, he said, adding that the BJP fully stands with Bagga.
Another Delhi BJP leader, Nupur Sharma, cited a court ruling to say that police from another state must inform the local police before making any arrest. Punjab Police's action, she said, was illegal as it did not inform its Delhi counterparts.
Meanwhile, the Delhi police registered a case of abduction against Punjab cops following a complaint by Bagga's family.
Last month, the Punjab police had booked Bagga on charges of making provocative statements, promoting enmity and criminal intimidation.
The case was registered on a complaint from AAP leader Sunny Ahluwalia, a resident of Mohali.
On Friday morning, the Punjab police arrested Bagga from his house in Janakpuri connection with the case.
In a high-voltage drama that followed, a Delhi police team rushed to Kurukshetra in Haryana and took Bagga in its custody.
The Punjab police team was stopped in Kurukshetra's Pipli with a Haryana police official saying they had information that Bagga was "forcibly" picked up from his residence.
The FIR against Bagga referred to his remarks on March 30 when he was part of a BJP youth wing protest outside Kejriwal's residence in Delhi.
He had come under fire from the Aam Aadmi Party, which is ruling both Delhi and Punjab, for his tweet against the Delhi chief minister over the movie The Kashmir Files.
Though AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj referred to the clashes in Patiala on April 29, the Punjab police said it arrested the Delhi BJP spokesperson from his residence in the national capital in connection with a case registered in Mohali on April 1.
The April 1 FIR referred to Bagga's remarks on March 30, when he was part of a BJP youth wing protest outside the Delhi chief minister's residence.
Defending the Punjab Police's action, Bharadwaj told a press conference that the state police registered a case against Bagga last month after the BJP leader, through his social media posts, "tried to create communal tension and incite violence in the state".
"Because of such statements, the Punjab Police lodged an FIR and now arrested Bagga. His statements were communal in nature. A lot of BJP-linked people were instigating the violence in Patiala," Bhardwaj alleged.
The April 1 FIR was registered under relevant IPC sections, including 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place, etc.), 505 (whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report) and 506 (criminal intimidation).
Launching a counterattack, Bharadwaj said the Punjab Police arrested Bagga only after he did not join the investigation despite five summons.
"There is no vendetta. The Punjab police is doing its work impartially," he said, dismissing the BJP's allegations of vindictive action as "absolutely wrong".
The AAP spokesperson alleged the BJP sees politics and vendetta behind the arrest of Bagga because it has been "misusing" state machinery for political gains.
"It's BJP's and not any other political party's modus operandi," he charged.
"The BJP has always been misusing state machinery for its benefit. When elections are there, raids by the ED (Enforcement Directorate) and I-T (Income Tax), NIA (National Investigation Agency) summons and arrests by the police are quite common," Bharadwaj said.
Since the BJP has always "intimidated and threatened" its rivals using the police and other agencies, it feels the rest of the parties have also become like it when "any work is done impartially", he added.
"If there was a bit of chance in his (Bagga's) favour, he approached a lower court, high court, tried to get anticipatory bail but he didn't get any relief from any court," he added.
The AAP leader listed a number of cases registered against Bagga since 2011 and said he has "a dossier like a big criminal".
"If you see his (Bagga's) Twitter and Facebook account to understand what is he known for in Delhi, you will find that his unique selling point is dirty and cheap language, poisonous speeches that can create hatred and lead to quarrels between two communities," the AAP leader said.
Bharadwaj on Thursday alleged the BJP was behind the clashes between two groups in Punjab's Patiala district, claiming that the special investigation team set up by the Bhagwant Mann government will soon come up with a "big revelation" in this connection.