Assam Police book Rahul Gandhi for ‘violence’ during Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra

State Congress president Bhupen Kumar Borah and MLA Jakir Hussain Sikdar sustain injuries in a scuffle between police personnel and Congress workers on the outskirts of Guwahati

January 23, 2024 01:12 pm | Updated January 24, 2024 12:06 am IST - Guwahati

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addresses supporters during the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra near Guwahati on January 23, 2024. Photo: X/@INCIndia via ANI

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addresses supporters during the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra near Guwahati on January 23, 2024. Photo: X/@INCIndia via ANI

The Assam Police on Tuesday booked Rahul Gandhi for “wanton acts of violence” as the political confrontation between the Congress leader and Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma escalated on the tenth day of the ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’, with Mr. Gandhi asserting that he does not get “intimidated” by such tactics.

“With reference to wanton acts of violence, provocation, damage to public property and assault on police personnel today by Congress members, an FIR has been registered against Rahul Gandhi, K.C. Venugopal, Kanhaiya Kumar and other individuals...,” the Chief Minister posted on X.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Sarma directed the Director-General of Police of the State, Gyanendra Pratap Singh, to register a case against Mr. Gandhi for “provoking” a crowd that broke a police barricade erected to prevent the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra vehicles from entering Guwahati.

Mr. Sarma said the “Naxalite” behaviour of the crowd was against the “Assamese culture” in the peaceful State.

“Such Naxalite tactics are completely alien to our culture. I have instructed @DGPAssamPolice to register a case against your leader @RahulGandhi for provoking the crowd & use the footage you have posted on your handles as the evidence,” Mr. Sarma wrote on X, reacting to a video posted by Youth Congress national president Srinivas B.V.

The Chief Minister later posted a video on X as proof to claim Mr. Gandhi and Jitendra Singh, the Congress in-charge for Assam, provoked the people to attack the police personnel on duty.

Also read: Congress urges Assam Governor for judicial inquiry into attacks during yatra

“There was a barricade here. We have removed it,” Mr. Gandhi was heard saying in the video while Mr. Singh said, “You all have removed the barricade. It is our victory.”

Addressing presspersons near Guwahati, Mr. Gandhi said: “I don’t get intimidated once I have made up my mind to fight for an ideology, whether you abuse, disturb, or thrash me. I fight for truth.”

He credited the Assam Chief Minister with helping the Yatra by trying to disrupt its schedule through violence by state and non-state actors.

Sustain minor injuries

Assam Congress president Bhupen Kumar Borah and party MLA Jakir Hussain Sikdar sustained minor injuries during a scuffle between police personnel and Congress workers near a bypass, the designated route, at Khanapara on the southern edge of Guwahati along the Assam-Meghalaya border. A few policemen were injured too.

Mr. Gandhi said, “The Yatra has become Assam’s main issue. Thwarting a visit to a temple and a college and not allowing padayatra are intimidation tactics but we are not afraid of them. Our message on nyay [justice] is reaching the villages.”

“I am blowing kisses at protesting BJP fellows and they are waving at me and smiling. Mr. Himanta seems to think it is a protest. There is no protest taking place there. The BJP workers are lining up to shout ‘naras’ [slogans]. We are perfectly happy,” he added.

Mr. Gandhi said the impact of the Bharat Jodo Yatra in 2023 made the BJP try to disrupt the ongoing Yatra at its initial stage.

He also spelled out his five-point vision for ‘nyay’ in the country — justice for youth, justice for women, justice for farmers, justice for labourers, and justice of participation.

Academic’s condemnation

Academic and social activist Hiren Gohain condemned the “brazen violence” unleashed upon the Yatra marchers by the police on Tuesday. He also accused the BJP government of organising a counter-march of followers shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ to “give a colour to the police theory” of imminent danger.

“The proposed march was entirely legitimate as it only upheld the fundamental right of the citizens to associate, assemble, and communicate matters of concern to all. There was no earthly reason why it should be banned,” he said.

“But the BJP government was obviously rattled by the enthusiastic support of cheering crowds on the way and it took drastic repressive measures to stop it. But it has unwittingly sent out a message that anyone challenging its writ will have to pay and all rights of protest peacefully and non-violently are now suspended,” Dr. Gohain said in a statement.

(With PTI inputs)

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