The heart of Delhi saw high drama on Friday as Congress leaders defied prohibitory orders imposed by police and took out protests against inflation, unemployment and rising prices. Several Congress workers and leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and Sachin Pilot, were detained and taken to Kingsway Camp police station.
New Delhi district police had earlier denied permission for the protests citing CrPC Section 144 being imposed across the district except at Jantar Mantar. A letter regarding the same was sent on Thursday to AICC general secretary KC Venugopal, police said.
Traffic police had also created diversions and roadblocks across New Delhi District, including at Akbar Road, the location of the AICC headquarters.
Congress MPs had meanwhile planned to march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan from Parliament, as well as gherao the PM’s house.
“India is witnessing the death of democracy,” Rahul Gandhi said in a press conference on Friday morning. “What India has built brick by brick, starting almost a century ago, is being destroyed in front of your eyes. Anybody who stands against this idea of onset of dictatorship is viciously attacked, jailed, arrested and beaten up.”
During the march to Parliament, he was detained alongside several others.
Meanwhile, Priyanka and Pilot arrived at the AICC headquarters on Friday morning.
Amid pouring rain, AICC workers pressed up against police barriers near the AICC main gate, raising slogans against “mehngai” and also against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the police presence, chanting, ” Jab jab Modi darta hai, police ko aage karta hai (When Modi is scared, he sends the police forward).” Many also waved placards shaped like gas cylinders. Present on the other side of the barriers were a large number of raincoat-clad Delhi Police and Rapid Action Force personnel. Many Congress workers scaled elevated positions and climbed the barriers, raising slogans from their perches. Inside AICC headquarters, they chanted slogans alongside music.
Congress Rajya Sabha MP Shaktisinh Gohil, who was among those present, echoed the party line: “Our fight is against high expenses and rise in prices.”
#WATCH | Police detain Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra from outside AICC HQ in Delhi where she had joined other leaders and workers of the party in the protest against unemployment and inflation.
The party called a nationwide protest today. pic.twitter.com/JTnWrrAT9T
— ANI (@ANI) August 5, 2022
A little past 12.30 pm, Priyanka and others exited the AICC HQ and crossed the police barriers. She staged a sit-in protest on the road, and was quickly detained by women police officers. Sachin too was detained, along with a number of Congress workers who crossed the pushed-down barriers, and put into buses.
Shubham Singh, the Youth Congress president from Amethi, recalled Priyanka’s arrest: “When she went out to protest, the Congress karyakartas moved the barriers aside. Almost immediately, she was detained by police. I was struck on the arm and leg.”
Congress karyakarta Shoaib, who was also present, said, “In a democracy, people should be able to give their opinions. Are we not citizens of this country? There were as many police personnel as karyakartas.”