SP workers lathi-charged in Lucknow, Etah, Kannauj and Varanasi
The president of the Uttar Pradesh unit of the Samajwadi Party, Akhilesh Yadav, was among a dozen leaders and hundreds of party workers arrested on Wednesday, the last day of the party's three-day agitation against the Bahujan Samaj Party government. Party workers were also lathi-charged by the police in Lucknow, Etah, Kannauj, Gorakhpur and Varanasi.
An official spokesman, however, denied that force was used by police to quell the agitation. He said no untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the State.
Akhilesh Yadav, who is the son of the party president Mulayam Singh, was arrested at Amausi airport here 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 officer, Mr. Yadav was arrested as he was scheduled to lead a protest rally in Lucknow.
Describing his arrest as a violation of his democratic right, Mr. Yadav told reporters that the police action “underscored the autocratic rule of 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 posh Hazratganj area of Lucknow were lathi-charged following a scuffle with the police who prevented them from proceeding towards Vidhan Bhawan. According to Mr. Chaudhary, party workers were lathi-charged by the police in Etah, Mainpuri, Kannauj, Gorakhpur and Varanasi also.
Special DG (Law & Order) Brij Lal told reporters that 434 Samajwadi Party workers courted arrest on Wednesday. He claimed that security arrangements acted as a deterrent and life went on smoothly.
He added that the agitation had no impact on schools, colleges, commercial establishments and government offices.
The ruling Bahujan Samaj Party on Wednesday termed the three-day anti-government agitation of the Samajwadi Party as a “political drama” that was “rejected by the people”. The Samajwadi Party was trying to regain its political credibility by resorting to dharnas and demonstrations, but the efforts ended in a failure, the BSP said.
BSP State unit president Swamy Prasad Maurya said the Samajwadi Party was least concerned about people's welfare. “Mr. Mulayam Singh should understand that the people can no longer be misled, and now even his party workers were distancing from him,” Mr. Maurya said in a press release.
Defending the arrest, Mr. Maurya said it had been done to maintain law and order.
He also asked why Mr. Yadav returned to Lucknow when the Parliament session was on.