New Delhi: As Congress’ young stalwart Rahul Gandhi took on the might of Mayawati in her own turf by lending support to the farmers’ agitation in Greater Noida against her government’s land acquisition policy, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister hit back by arresting him for violating Section 144 and Section 151 in Bhatta Parsaul village, late Wednesday night.
Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, UP Congress president Rita Bahuguna Joshi and actor turned politician Raj Babbar were also arrested with the young leader, Gautam Budh Nagar acting district magistrate Sheetal Verma said.
"Rahul Gandhi has been arrested for violating the prohibitory orders enforced under section 144 of Cr.P.C ((Criminal Procedure Code). State president Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Digvijay Singh and Raj Babbar were also arrested along with Rahul Gandhi," she said.
The district administration, prior to the arrests, imposed section 144 of the CrPC.
This is the first time that Rahul Gandhi has been arrested.
As per the reports Rahul Gandhi is currently in the Kaasna Police station.
According to the rules, Gandhi would be produced before a court Thursday and till then, he would be lodged at the appropriate place in consultation with Special Protection Group personnel, the official said.
The Congress general secretary, who landed at Bhatta Parsaul village in this Delhi suburb at about 4 am was sitting on a dharna demanding a judicial inquiry into the firing incidents - that left four persons including two policemen dead - following violent clashes between police and protesting farmers.
The farmers are demanding a higher compensation for their land that has been acquired by the government for the Yamuna Expressway being built to connect the national capital region with Taj city Agra.
Rahul was also joined by party colleague Digvijay Singh on a day-long dharna at the Choupal at Parsaul village after he heard villagers for several hours narrate the alleged atrocities committed on them by the UP police.
SDM Vishal Singh met Rahul and asked him to end the dharna in view of the potential security risk to him in view of the situation in the area. Vishal Singh also expressed inability to provide security as he had come without intimation.
But the young Congress leader told the official that unless their demands were met he would not leave the village. The demands also included release of detained farmers.
Digvijay Singh said, till a judicial inquiry submitted a report no action should be taken against the farmers in respect of FIRs lodged against them. He also demanded that all the arrested farmers be released and that there should not be any forcible land acquisition.
IG Police Rajni Kant Mishra was in constant touch with top state government officials in Lucknow to seek directions on how to deal the tricky situation arising out of Rahul's dharna.
The strong police force deployed at the Bhatta Parsaul village apparently failed to notice Rahul when he reached there in a mobike in the dark.
It was only when he began meeting farmers and heard their grievances that the policemen recognised the young Congress leader, who has, in past, often slipped out of his security cordon to meet people. The identity of the driver of the mobike was not known immediately.
Senior officers told Rahul that the state administration too had requested the villagers to return home as there was no fear for innocent farmers. Police was only targeting the anti-social elements who had fired at police team and caused rioting, they said.
Some of the villagers also showed Rahul the injuries inflicted on them allegedly by the police. They all claimed that all young males have either been detained by police or have left the village out of fear. The villagers claimed they were holding peaceful demonstration since January 17.
With Agency Inputs
First Published: Thursday, May 12, 2011, 01:06