Ban orders re-imposed at Bhatta-Parsaul

Several Congress and BJP leaders were arrested in western Uttar Pradesh as the protest against the violence in Bhatta-Parsaul villages in Greater Noida intensified on Thursday. Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley of the BJP were among them.

Many Congress workers were injured when police lathicharged them at several places, including in Lucknow, to foil their attempts to block traffic to condemn the arrest on Wednesday night of party general secretary Rahul Gandhi at Bhatta-Parsaul.

The Amethi MP was released at around 1.30 a.m. on Thursday. Lok Jan Shakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan, social activist Medha Patkar and Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda's son Dipankar Hooda were among the other leaders arrested as they tried to proceed to Bhatta-Parsaul, where ban orders under Section 144 were re-imposed.

Bhartiya Kisan Union leader Mahendra Singh Tikait was detained in Meerut.

The former BJP president and Ghaziabad MP, Rajnath Singh, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley and senior leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi were arrested in Ghaziabad after they staged a dharna at Ambedkar Park. They were released later.

The BJP will stage a dharna in all district headquarters on Friday to protest the alleged exploitation of farmers by the Mayawati regime, and to condemn corruption, party vice-president Vinay Katiyar said at a press conference here.

Special Director-General of Police (Law and Order) Brij Lal said Ms. Patkar had earlier visited Bhatta-Parsaul and was stopped when she tried to visit the villages again on Thursday.

Mr. Dipankar Hooda, bound for Bhatta-Parsaul from Palwal in a cavalcade of 40 vehicles, was stopped on the Gautam Buddha Nagar (Noida)-Aligarh border and asked to return. About 300 Bhartiya Kisan Union workers held a meeting at Achcheyja near the Dankaur railway station in Greater Noida. About half-a-dozen of them went to Bhatta-Parsaul and then returned.

A Home Department spokesman said life was not disrupted as a result of the Congress' ‘chakka jam.' Home Secretary Deepak Kumar said 135 Congress workers, MPs and MLAs were arrested on Thursday.

Congress MP from Haryana Virendra Singh and MLA from Delhi Anil Chaudhary were arrested in Ghaziabad, Congress Legislature Party leader Pramod Tiwari in Allahabad, Sanjay Singh, MP, in Sultanpur and legislators Naseeb Pathan and Vinod Chaturvedi in Mainpuri.

In Lucknow, where the Congressmen staged a dharna near the Chief Minister's office, Pradesh Congress Committee president Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Lucknow West MLA Shyam Kishore Shukla and other workers were arrested. The police used force to disperse the agitating workers.

The arrest of Mr. Gandhi came after hectic parleys between Chief Minister Mayawati and her officials and some anxious moments in government circles.