Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj India Party was detained by Tamil Nadu police for nearly six hours on Saturday, and was subsequently formally arrested later in the evening, within an hour of his release, during his visit to Tiruvannamalai district. Yadav was visiting the district to meet party representatives and some farmers’ families who were ostensibly affected by the land acquisition for the proposed Chennai-Salem greenfield corridor project.
Around 10 am, as Yadav and his party members were heading to Naniyendhal village in Tiruvannamalai district, after meeting villagers in Athipadi, police officials intercepted their vehicles and took them in custody. Yadav was later served an order dated September 1, applying Section 30(2) of the Police Act 1861, which prevents public assembly and procession in the area.
Citing that the order dated September 1 was not received by any politician or mediaperson, Yadav later issued a statement alleging that the order was prepared only on Saturday and signed backdated.
As he said that he will proceed with his plan to meet the affected farmers, he was arrested around 6 pm.
“My colleagues and I did not have any plan to organise a public meeting or procession. It was a fact-finding mission to meet farmers at their homes. So I have decided to go ahead with my earlier plan to meet farmers,” Yadav said after he was released following his detention during the day.
“Mahatma Gandhi said that obeying an illegal order is unethical. Let the law prevail, I will go ahead,” he said,
DMK president M K Stalin condemned Yadav’s detention. In a statement, Stalin said, “The intolerant AIADMK government will pay the price for denying people the democratic right to dissent and protest.”
In a statement, former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi called the arrest “extraordinary”. “He was wanting to ascertain if their reported consent to their land being acquired for an expressway was voluntary or not. His initiative was wholly peaceful in method and entirely democratic,” he stated.
A senior police officer said it was a preventive custody based on intelligence inputs that Yadav and his team was planning to organise farmers’ meetings in villages without permission.