Dasna (Uttar Pradesh): Union Minister of State for Communication and Information Technology, Sachin Pilot was on Sunday arrested while on his way to Bhatta-Parsaul village in Greater Noida, the site of the recent violent clashes between police and agitating farmers over land acquisition. He was released later.
The Congress leader was arrested in Ghaziabad for violating Section 151 of CrPC and was taken to a nearby police station. Later he was escorted back to his Delhi residence.
Pilot, who was on his way to Bhatta-Parsaul after visiting villagers lodged in the Dasna jail near Ghaziabad, was stopped and arrested near Lal Kuan on National Highway 24.
Though the Union minister was issued a warning by the district administration not to travel to the village, but when Pilot defied the orders and staged a dharna, he was booked for causing disturbance to the public peace and arrested.
Reacting to the Mayawati government’s action, Pilot said, “I and my party workers were only going there to listen to the grievances of the farmers. We were not here to disturb the law and order situation.”
When asked about his meeting with villagers languished in jail, Pilot told reporters that the villagers said that they feared for their families' safety back home.
He condemned the UP government’s actions and also said he has been arrested illegally as the place where the arrest has taken place doesn’t fall under Section 144, which has been imposed in Bhatta Parsaul and adjoining areas.
Continuing the Congress strategy of putting the Mayawati-led government in Uttar Pradesh in the dock over the alleged police atrocities in Bhatta-Parsaul, Pilot said farmers had been individually picked up from their homes and thrown into jail without being informed of the charges under which they were being held.
"They are very scared and were weeping. The sections under which they have been arrested have not been disclosed to the villagers. They don't know why it has been done," Pilot told reporters after meeting the detainees.
"The law and order machinery has collapsed. The police went to their homes and individually picked them up. They are worried about their kin that in case they do not cooperate, something untoward might happen to their families," he added.
Bhatta-Parsaul hit the headlines on May 7 when four people, including two policemen, were killed when villagers clashed with policemen while agitating for higher compensation for their lands acquired by the Uttar Pradesh government for developmental projects. Some 25 villagers are said to have been detained, though police were silent about this.
Most men aged between 18 and 55 fled their homes following the incident, fearing a crackdown by security forces.
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Monday took eight farmers from the area to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and alleged that women had been raped and that people had found 74 heaps of ashes with dead bodies inside after the violence on May 7.
The Uttar Pradesh police had arrested Rahul Gandhi in Bhatta-Parsaul on May 11 under Section 151, where he had gone to support the agitating farmers.
The National Commission for Women (NCW) on Saturday said the women in the village had been molested and sexually assaulted and recommended a CBI probe into the alleged atrocities against women.
Pilot said the detained villagers spoke of a woman called Bala, who has been missing from the night when the clashes happened with the police.
"One lady in Parsaul village, Bala, has been missing from that night itself. NCW has verified that the women were molested," said Pilot.
"There should be thorough judicial probe. We are here for the rights of the people. We are going to ensure that their voices are heard."
With IANS inputs
First Published: Monday, May 23, 2011, 00:19