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Fear stalks India, says Kejriwal

Alleging that an atmosphere of fear had now gripped India, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday praised BJP leader Yashwant Sinha for speaking out against the government over economic issues.

“Nowadays there is an atmosphere of fear all around. Everyone is afraid. Even common people are living in fear,” Kejriwal said at an event here to mark the release of Congress leader Manish Tewari’s book, “Tidings of Troubled Times”.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader said there was “an atmosphere of fear even within the BJP. Yashwant Sinha’s courage to speak the truth at such a time is really commendable.

“For this Sir, I congratulate you,” he said, looking at the former Finance Minister who has taken on both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Kejriwal said industries, particularly the small-scale sector as well as traders, had suffered heavily because of the policies pursued by the Modi government.

He said most of the 16,000 industries in Bawana area in Delhi — where the AAP last month won a by-election — were shut and thousands of workers had lost work.

Several industries had also closed down in Delhi’s Wazirpur industrial area, he said, rendering thousands more jobless.

“The maximum loss has been borne by small industries and small traders. Business has been completely destroyed.”

Kejriwal said everyone appeared to fear income tax raids. “Everywhere there is an atmosphere of fear. Lakhs of income tax notices have been sent out. Everywhere income tax and ED (Enforcement Directorate) officers have conducted raids.

“It seems everybody has been put under surveillance.” He said people were afraid to talk over the phone fearing they could be tapped.

“My phone is tapped definitely but everyone thinks that their phones are also tapped.”

Kejriwal said businessmen were now complaining that bribery rates has increased five times.

And now with the Goods and Services Tax (GST), businesses had taken more hits, he added. “I have been in the Income Tax department but I never saw such ‘raid raj’.”

Kejriwal also alleged that “poison” was being injected into the society to pit one section against the other including Dalits, Hindus and Muslims.

“Social media is full of hate messages… This was not seen earlier.”

Asserting that people in the country were essentially peaceful, he said the foundation of the Indian society was now being eroded.