Refuting Ramon Magsaysay award winning-social activist Sandeep Pandey’s claims of being put under house arrest on three occasions in the past week, the Lucknow administration on Sunday said he was neither put under house arrest nor detained, PTI reported.
Last week, Pandey alleged that he was briefly put under house arrest to prevent him from taking part in a dharna in Lucknow against the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and the ongoing lockdown in the newly created Union Territory.
The social activist claimed they were again prevented from going to Ayodhya for a two-day programme on communal amity on Saturday.
“In the past week, we have been stopped thrice by the police and administration from freely expressing our views. I was put under house arrest on three occasions (August 11, 16 and 17),” PTI quoted Pandey as saying.
Criticising the alleged “stalling” of their programmes, Pandey said it seemed as if “there was a ban on the freedom of expression”. Last Sunday, Pandey and several other activists, including advocate Mohammad Shoaib, had planned a demonstration at the Gandhi statue in Hazratganj.
Lucknow District Magistrate (DM) Kaushal Raj Sharma rubbished the claims by Pandey. “Who is stopping him from holding protests at the Eco Garden in the city. He cannot stage any protest in Hazratganj – the heart of the state capital – as the High Court has banned all protests in the area,” PTI quoted Sharma as saying.
“The dharna sthal (protest venue) of the district has been identified and he is most welcome to hold any protest, dharna or agitation there for as many days he likes. Why does he deliberately opts for spots where protests are not allowed?” the Lucknow DM further said.
Denying Pandey was put under house arrest, the DM added: “He was neither put under house arrest nor detained. We intervened when they announced to go to Hazratganj.” Pandey had won the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2002 in the emergent leader category.
–with PTI inputs