FORMER GUJARAT chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela said Saturday he has been put under “house arrest” while the police have detained several of his supporters from outside the Sabarmati Ashram.
Vaghela and his supporters had planned to march from the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad to Raj Ghat in New Delhi to extend support to the farmers who are protesting at the border of the national capital against three contentious farm laws — the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
“They (police) told me in the morning that I am under house arrest. This is a new system, similar to that seen in the Kashmir Valley,” Vaghela said. He was addressing media persons at his house in Gandhinagar, from where he was supposed to reach Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad at 11 am.
“The government had already made arrangements so that I would not be able to step out of my home in Gandhinagar. At night, I got phone calls saying that all ours banners, flags and posters have been removed from outside the Sabarmati Ashram. I want to ask the government why nobody can protest against the farm laws? If you have the right to favour the laws, we have a right to oppose it. But this government doesn’t want to give us our right to oppose. Section 144 (of the IPC) only applies to the Opposition. It does not apply to the BJP,” Vaghela, who was recently ousted from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Gujarat, said.
The former CM said he had sought permission for the protest at Sabarmati Ashram but the police had not responded. Vaghela said he would reach out to the farmers to make them understand the “unfairness” of the new farm legislations that he claimed “favoured Ambani and Adani”, as both of the corporate groups have already constructed large warehouses to store agriculture produce.
Earlier in the day, his supporters had gathered in front of the Sabarmati Ashram and shouted slogans against the farm legislations. The police had immediately rounded up the protesters.
J B Khanbala, police inspector, Ranip police station, Ahmedabad told The Indian Express, “Only volunteers and workers of Shankersinh Vaghela had arrived outside Gandhi ashram in Sabarmati with posters and banners to start a rally. No permission was given to them for any protest or rally. So, we detained 53 people in this case and brought them to Ranip police station and then to headquarters in Shahibaug, where they were detained for two hours. No FIR has been lodged in this case and all 53 detainees have been released now,”
A senior police official with Gandhinagar police Control Room said, “Since no permission was given for a protest, a police team was deployed outside the residence of Shankersinh Vaghela at Vasant Vihar in Sector 26 of Mansa Road ( Gandhinagar) on Saturday morning in order to maintain law and order situation and he was kept under house detention.”