Several Bharatiya Janata Party workers were injured in a clash with the police when the party's dharna and demonstration against price rise and corruption turned violent here on Thursday.
Former BJP president, Rajnath Singh sustained minor injuries. Among the injured were some policemen, including an ASP.
Senior BJP leaders, including Mr. Singh, former HRD Minister, Murli Manohar Joshi, BJP vice president, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and UP BJP chief, Ramapati Ram Tripathi, were later arrested along with hundreds of party workers. They were released after about 30 minutes.
BJP's State-wide rally against price rise and corruption was held at the Jhule Lal Park on the banks of the river Gomti here on Thursday. After the conclusion of the meeting the party men were to stage a march to the Vidhan Sabha, but their movement was blocked by heavy barricading placed by the strong posse of policemen on the Hanuman Setu.
As the BJP workers moved towards the barricading some among them resorted to unprovoked stone pelting on the police party. The police sprayed water cannon and fired about 25 tear gas shells to thwart their movement. About three to four rubber bullets were fired by the policemen, who baton charged the saffron party workers in a bid to disperse them. The police also threw stones on the BJP workers.
About half a dozen vehicles were damaged in the stone throwing. The agitated BJP workers seized the ASP, Paresh Pandey and bashed him up when he went to the dais for negotiating the arrest of the leaders.
The drama continued for about two hours as the senior BJP leaders and workers staged a dharna at the venue in protest against the police action. The dharna was called off following the arrest and subsequent release.
Addressing the rally, Mr. Rajnath Singh accused the Congress-led UPA Government of misleading the people by making hollow claims and said the Centre had failed to curb price rise. The former BJP president expressed the apprehension that the prices would go further up after the presentation of the Union Budget on Friday. In contrast, the NDA government had successfully contained the prices.
Mr. Singh attacked the Mayawati Government on charges of corruption and assailed the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister for installing her own statues in different memorial sites in Lucknow. He added that the BJP has no objection to the statues and memorial sites dedicated after Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar.
The BJP leader alleged that extortion racket was thriving in U.P. with a new type of tax, "goonda tax", being imposed in the State.
Blaming the UPA Government for the price rise, Dr. Joshi said the Centre favoured the capitalist class and not the common man. The senior BJP leader demanded a ban on forward trading and added that the Central Government had no policy to curb the price rise.
Dr. Joshi trained his guns on the Union Agriculture Minister, Sharad Pawar and said that he was paying more attention to cricket and not the farm sector and farmers.
The anti-price rise rally was also addressed by Mr. Naqvi, UP BJP chief, Ramapati Ram Tripathi, general secretary, Vinay Katiyar, Lok Sabha MP from Lucknow, Lalji Tandon and Rajya Sabha MP, Kalraj Mishra.