The Lucknow administration stopped Samajwadi Party (SP) President Akhilesh Yadav from heading to Kannauj on Monday to launch his party’s Kisaan Yatra against the Central government’s three new farm laws as police detained the former Chief Minister for close to five hours. Police also beat up SP workers and supporters who were accompanying the SP chief.
Later in the evening, police booked Akhilesh for violation of Section 144 CrPC and under Epidemic Diseases Act. According to senior officials in Lucknow, the Kannauj district administration had denied permission to the Samajwadi Party to hold the march, citing Covid pandemic and had imposed Section 144 of the CrPC – that prevents gathering of four or more people – in the districts.
Around 12.30 pm, as Akhilesh came out of his Vikramaditya Marg residence in a car, his convoy was stopped by the police. With the vehicles not allowed to move forward, the SP president said that he would march to Kannauj district on foot, leading to a commotion. Akhilesh than squatted on the road. “Where in a democracy one should be stopped from going out of their house? You locked us in our houses with barricading on all the sides… If I am allowed to go there (Kannauj), I will just speak with the protesting farmers and join the march,” Akhilesh told officials as he sat on the road at Bandariya Bagh Chauraha.
Akhilesh was then taken to Eco Garden in a van and detained for close to five hours. Police also resorted to lathicharge to disperse SP workers.
In a series of tweets later, Akhilesh hit out at the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government in the state for preventing him to take part in a protest march. “People are seeing the double standards of the BJP which itself is organising events but is arresting the Opposition in the name of coronavirus. BJP is desperate because now even the common citizens have joined the farmers. When a government becomes the oppressor, a protest turns into revolution in no time. We will see for how many days, BJP will stop us.”
Calling it an “undeclared emergency”, SP spokesperson Ashutosh Verma said, “Kisaan Yatra was to take place peacefully in support of our protesting farmers. We will do this again and again… For the benefit of a few business houses, the BJP government will not be allowed to oppress our farmers.”
Lucknow Police officials said they had urged Akhilesh to cancel his visit in the morning. “The District Magistrate of Kannauj had written a letter to Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday, requesting him to cancel the programme due to safety issues, the coronavirus situation and imposition of Section 144… He ignored our requests and came out of his house and sat in protest after the administration stopped him from going ahead. In order to avoid any law and order situation and mismanagement, he was detained. He was let go around 5 pm. In total around 250 SP workers from different places were taken to Eco Garden,” said Lucknow Police Commissioner DK Thakur.
A statement issued by Lucknow Police said, “…SP workers gheraoed and tried to take out march against the rules. When stopped, they misbehaved with police, manhandled and beat them up… Some of the workers were arrested under Section 151 CrPC… Akhilesh protested at Bandariya Bagh Chauraha in violation of section 144 CrPC and blocked the road halting the traffic. On this, he was detained under section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the IPC along with sections of the Epidemic Act.”
A total of four FIRs were filed in connection with the protest.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines