Mulayam Singh's house heavily barricaded by police
Samajwadi Party (SP) leaders and workers came out on the streets on Monday to begin the party's three-day agitation programme against the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) government in Uttar Pradesh.
Police resorted to lathicharge at several places including Lucknow, Etawah, Gorakhpur and Meerut, and used water cannon to quell the protests as the SP workers and security personnel were locked in a scuffle.
While the SP claimed that about a lakh party workers had been arrested, an official spokesman said that 2,327 protesters were sent to jail. The figure was inclusive of the SP workers arrested over the weekend.
Among those arrested at different places on Monday were the Leader of Opposition in the Vidhan Sabha, Shivpal Singh Yadav, 17 other MLAs, and six MPs.
Party president Mulayam Singh and his son Akhilesh Yadav, president of the SP's State unit, were reportedly placed under “house arrest” as their residence on Vikramaditya Marg here was heavily barricaded by the police. According to party spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary, they were not allowed to leave to catch a flight to Delhi for attending the budget session of the Lok Sabha.
Mr. Singh and his son were booked to travel by a Kingfisher flight in the morning. It was only after Mr. Singh spoke to the District Magistrate and the DIG, and wrote a letter to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, that the barricading was removed, Mr. Chaudhary said.
Refuting the SP's charges, Special DG (Law and Order) Brij Lal told journalists that Mr. Singh was not placed under house arrest. On the barricading, Mr. Lal said they were not placed specifically for any person but had been erected to deter the movement of the party workers.
Mr. Lal denied reports that government offices including the Lal Bahadur Shastri Annexe Bhavan and the District Collectorate were locked by SP workers in a bid to disrupt the administration and government.
The SP spokesman had claimed that the Annexe and the Collectorate had been locked up at 6.30 a.m.
Mr. Lal said all offices across the State had functioned and schools remained open. Rail and road traffic was not allowed to be disrupted, he added.
He said the police used mild force to disperse the party supporters in some places, adding that not a single rubber bullet or tear gas shell was fired.
In Lucknow, SP workers led by Mr. Shivpal Singh Yadav and proceeding towards the Collectorate were stopped near the Hotel Clarks Avadh. A scuffle ensued between the police and the party supporters, and Mr. Yadav and others were arrested and taken to the Reserve Police Lines.
The MLAs arrested at other places included Dharmendra Kashyap, Shadab Fatima, Pradeep Singh Yadav, Avdhesh Prasad, Arvind Singh Gope and Bishambhar Prasad Nishad.
The SP agitation will continue over the next two days.