Mulayam Singh's son Akhilesh Yadav among the leaders arrested on Wednesday

The president of the State unit of Samajwadi Party and Mulayam Singh's son, Akhilesh Yadav, was among the dozen leaders and hundreds of party workers arrested on the last day of the three day agitation against the Bahujan Samaj Party government in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday. Party workers were lathicharged by the police in Lucknow, Etah, Kannauj, Gorakhpur and Varanasi.

An official spokesman here denied that force was used by the police to quell the agitation. He said no untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the State.

Mr. Yadav was arrested at Amausi airport (Chaudhary Charan Singh International airport) in the State capital on his return from Delhi in the morning. He was taken to the Reserve Police Lines here. According to a senior UP police official, Mr. Yadav was arrested as he was scheduled to lead a protest rally in the State capital.

Describing his arrest as a violation of his democratic right, Mr. Yadav told reporters after his arrest that the police action underscored the autocratic rule of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati. Samajwadi Party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary condemned the arrest and said Mr. Yadav was to go to his parliamentary constituency, Kannauj, after leading the protest in Lucknow.

SP workers, who had gathered at the Allahabad Bank crossing in the posh Hazratganj area of the State capital, were lathi-charged following a scuffle with the police which prevented them from proceeding towards the Vidhan Bhawan. According to SP spokesman, party workers were lathicharged by the police in Etah, Mainpuri, Kannauj, Gorakhpur and Varanasi.

The Special DG ( law and order ), Brij Lal, told reporters that 434 Samajwadi Party workers courted arrest on Wednesday, the last day of the party's anti-government agitation. Mr. Lal claimed that the strict security arrangements acted as a strong deterrent, which ensured that civil life went on normally despite the SP's call to disrupt administrative functioning.

He said the agitation had no impact on schools, colleges, commercial establishments and government offices.

Political drama: BSP

The ruling Bahujan Samaj Party on Wednesday termed the three-day anti-government agitation of the Samajwadi Party as a “political drama”, which was “rejected by the people”. The Samajwadi Party was trying to regain its political credibility by resorting to dharna and demonstration, but its efforts ended in a failure, the BSP said.

The president of the UP unit of BSP, Swamy Prasad Maurya, said the Samajwadi Party was least concerned about people's welfare. “Mulayam Singh should understand that the people can no longer be misled, now even his party workers are distancing from him,” Mr. Maurya said in a press release.

Defending the arrest of Akhilesh Yadav at Lucknow's Amausi airport, Mr. Maurya said it had been done to maintain law and order. He asked why Mr. Yadav returned to Lucknow when the Parliament session was under way.