Gandhinagar: Former Gujarat chief ministers Shankersinh Vaghela and Suresh Mehta and former Congress MP Madhusudan Mistry were detained in Ahmedabad on Sunday while they were on their way to lead a rally to protest against the policies of the Narendra Modi government.
Skirmishes between Congress workers and the police marked the arrest of the two former chief ministers as they were on their way to the venue of the rally which had been denied permission by the police.
Vaghela, a former union textile minister, termed the arrest as another example of the repressive ways of the Modi government. "If we cannot even go to pay our respects at the statue of Babasaheb Ambedkar on his death anniversary and express our support to the agitating government employees then god help this government. This government is on a suicidal path," he said.
Suresh Mehta said that the police had used force to arrest them even as they entered Ahmedabad from Gandhinagar. The call for the rally was given by the Prabuddha Nagrik Manch, a citizens’ body.
Supporters of the two were involved in skirmishes with the police which stopped their vehicle and took them into custody. A road block agitation has been launched.
The government had earlier permitted their rally as well as by the state government employees who are protesting in support of their demand for pay parity in accordance with the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission.
Vaghela, Mehta have announced support to their stir as well. However, citing perceptions of a terror strike in view of the 17th anniversary of the Babri mosque demolition, the permission for the rally was cancelled. However, the rallyists refused to change their plans.
Meanwhile, anonymous half-page advertisements have appeared in leading Gujarati dailies alleging that government employees are becoming tools in the hands of political parties.
Vishnu Patel, president of the Gujarat state employees’ coordination committee, has alleged it to be the handiwork of the state government to misguide the employees. "The government wants to split the employees but we are united and aware of it. Our stir is for our demands and we have no political connections but if somebody extends support, he is welcome to do so," Patel said.