BJP’s Gandhi surrenders amid violence

Accompanied by supporters waving saffron flags and chanting “Jai Shri Ram,” a saffron-clad Varun Gandhi surrendered in a Pilibhit court on Saturday....

Written by Sanjay Singh | Pilibhit | Published:March 29, 2009 1:02 am

Accompanied by supporters waving saffron flags and chanting “Jai Shri Ram,” a saffron-clad Varun Gandhi surrendered in a Pilibhit court on Saturday.

Though the district administration had clamped prohibitory orders,hundreds of supporters gathered for a saffron show of strength which set the tone for the BJP’s election campaign,at least in the state.

Gandhi said: “I am not afraid of going to jail. If it generates confidence in some people,I will go to jail.” Gandhi,who faces charges for making inflammatory speeches,was sent to judicial custody. The court has fixed Monday for hearing his bail application. The administration has lodged three FIRs against him.

His supporters,who poured in from across the district,clashed with the police after his arrest. Police fired rubber bullets,lobbed teargas shells and caned the stone-throwing mob that gathered at the gate of the court when he was being taken to the district jail. Five policemen and 20 activists were injured.

Varun’s mother and sitting MP from Pilibhit,Maneka Gandhi,landed later in the day and singled out a Muslim inspector for beating up the BJP activists. “Around 45 people are in the hospital. As many as 25 of them were beaten up by a single police inspector. His name is Pervez Mian,” she said. She later visited her son in the jail and the injured in the hospital.

The trouble began in the morning after Gandhi’s supporters started reaching Pilibhit town. “This is a spontaneous gathering of Varun’s supporters. We have not intimated anything to the district administration in this regard,” BJP’s district president Yogendra Gangwar said. The absence of BJP flags in the show clearly indicated careful planning to escape possible action from the Election Commission. Senior BJP leader Kalraj Mishra was present at the spot to “monitor the surrender of Varun Gandhi.”

Gandhi appeared at the main gate of the court around 11.30 am while his supporters waited at the Khamaria Bridge on the Bareilly-Pilibhit road. He took at least 15 minutes to cover a distance of about 500 metres from the gate to the court room as some of his supporters managed to break through the police cordon.

After being taken into judicial custody, the administration sought help from the local leaders of the BJP to get the supporters dispersed from the jail gate. “I assure you that punishment would be given to those who attacked you. Maneka Gandhi is reaching Pilibhit. We would fight the battle in court. So,you should leave this place,” BJP MLA from Barkhera Sukhalal announced on the public address system. However,party workers refused to budge and continued to shout slogans,prompting the police to use force.

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