RULING OUT that farmers were behind potatoes being dumped on Lucknow roads on January 6, the police on Saturday arrested two persons and booked six others, including two Samajwadi Party (SP) leaders. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav went on to rebuke the state police, saying he would honour Lucknow SSP Deepak Kumar with Yash Bharti award “for this achievement” when his party came to power. On Saturday, the SSP said that while Kannauj residents Ankit Singh and Santosh Pal were arrested on Friday, Shivendra Singh, Deependra Singh, Sandeep Yadav, Sanju Katiyar, Pradeep Singh and Jai Kumar Tiwari were booked on the charge of mischief by injury to public road.
He added that Shivendra Singh and Jai Kumar Tiwari are SP leaders. Barring Santosh Pal — who drove the truck that dumped the potatoes — all were friends, said the SSP. Calling it an act of political conspiracy, Kumar said Shivendra had unsuccessfully contested the recent urban local body polls for the post of nagar panchayat chairman in Kannauj’s Tirwa area on an SP ticket. Jai Kumar, too, contested for the chairman’s post for municipal board from Kannauj on an SP ticket. Another accused, Sanju, is the husband of Shilpi Katiyar, who had won the zila panchayat chairperson election on a SP ticket from Kannauj.
“With the help of CCTV footage, we arrested Ankit Singh and Santosh Pal,” said the SSP. He claimed that while Shivendra and Sanju purchased the potatoes from a cold storage in Kannauj’s Thathia area, Sandeep hired Santosh and arranged two SUVs. Deependra, Pradeep and Jai Kumar helped load the potatoes in the truck, he added.
“They reached Lucknow in the SUVs early January 6… and followed the truck, which started throwing potatoes from the 1090 crossing on Lohia Path… they covered areas near the VVIP guesthouse and the Raj Bhavan crossing… the last consignment was dumped outside the Vidhan Sabha building,” Kumar added.
Later in the day, Akhilesh took on the SSP, saying: “The SSP should better concentrate on law and order and arrest criminals… I will give Yash Bharti to SSP for this achievement (of arrest)”.
He added: “Jis tareeke se sarkar ka ravaiyya hai us se kanoon vyavastha nahi theek hone wali… jinhe kanoon vyavastha dekhna hai wo aaloo ki vyavastha dekh rahe hain… Jinhe kanoon vyavastha sambhalna hai wo apne aaloo liye ghoom rahe hain ke humne aaloo ke kisano ko pakad liya (Such attitude of the government will not improve the law and order situation… those who have to look after law and order, they are busy in handling the potato business… they are roaming around with potatoes and claiming that they have arrested the potato farmers).”
Akhilesh claimed that even if those responsible for the “protest” did contest elections on SP tickets, there is nothing wrong in it, as they are raising the voice of potato farmers. He added that he will ask SP leaders to fill gunny bags with potatoes and gift the same to all district magistrates on January 27. “The government still has enough time to purchase potatoes from farmers,” Akhilesh said.