Indian police arrest minister over 'fake' degree

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Indian police said Tuesday they had arrested a minister in the Delhi state government on suspicion of faking his law degree, sparking accusations of political interference by the country's ruling party.

Jitendra Singh Tomar, who holds a number of portfolios in the Delhi government including justice, appeared in court on Tuesday to be formally charged with criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery.

Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said Tomar, who denies the charges, had been arrested following a complaint from the Bar Council of Delhi.

"Based on the investigations and prima facie evidence, a case was filed against Tomar and he was arrested for cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy," he said.

The arrest has exposed a power struggle between the Delhi government led by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which lost elections in India's capital earlier this year.

The federal government controls the Delhi police force as well as some of the city's bureaucracy.

Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has accused it of trying to undermine his administration, including by blocking appointments of senior bureaucrats.

Senior AAP leader Sanjay Singh said Tomar's arrest was part of the national government's "pressure tactics".

"The Delhi police commissioner and the Modi government are trying to scare us with such tactics," he said, referring to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"But we are not going to be scared."