ARAB Times
New Delhi

NEW DELHI, Nov 6, (AFP): India’s federal police have arrested a leader of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party over his alleged role in the murder of an anti-corruption activist, authorities said Wednesday. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested Dinu Bogha Solanki, an MP from western Gujarat state, for allegedly conspiring to kill Amit Jethwa, who sought to expose illegal mining in the state. “The MP was called for questioning by the CBI (on Tuesday) and after detailed interrogation, he was arrested in the evening,” the CBI said in a statement.

Jethwa, a 34-year-old Right to Information activist, who was campaigning under India’s freedom of information laws, was shot dead in 2010 by two motorcycle-borne assailants near the High Court in Ahmedabad. He had accused Solanki of being involved in illegal mining around the protected Gir Forest region in Gujarat and had been campaigning to expose his activities, the CBI said. Jethwa’s killing led to a public outcry and calls for bringing in new legislation to protect whistleblowers. In recent years, incidents of intimidation, violence and murder have been reported against those seeking to expose corruption in government ranks.

In one of the most high-profile cases, a project director with the National Highways Authority of India was killed in 2003, and last year, a Karnataka state official was murdered over land allotment issues. Corruption is a hot topic as India gears up for a general election in 2014, with the ruling Congress party battling a string of bribery scandals.

Some 160 lawmakers in the national lower house of parliament and over 1,400 state legislature politicians from across the political spectrum are facing a range of criminal charges, according to campaign group the Association for Democratic Reforms.

Meanwhile, Indian police said Wednesday they had arrested a local man over the killing of a Nigerian in Goa, whose death has triggered protests in the holiday state. The suspect, who is in his mid- 30s, was detained on Tuesday night in north Goa, accused of being part of a gang who stabbed the Nigerian to death last week, a senior police official told AFP. Further arrests were expected soon, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Tensions have been rising in the western resort state since the man was found dead on October 30, with police blaming the killing on rivalry between local and Nigerian drug traffickers. The arrest came after Nigeria told India on Tuesday that it feared for the safety of its nationals in Goa and called for immediate action against those behind the killing. Goan police arrested 53 Nigerians last week after around 200 of them staged a protest against the killing, chasing a police hearse carrying the corpse of the dead Nigerian and putting the body on the road. Following the demonstration, which blocked Goa’s main highway for several hours, Goa’s Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar asked police to track down Nigerians living illegally in the former Portuguese colony so they could be deported.

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