Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's padayatra (march on foot) from Bhatta-Parsaul to Aligarh went into its second day on Wednesday even as the district administration imposed section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code in Aligarh. Mr. Gandhi had interacted with farmers in Badhauna village, before moving to Siarol village, of the Tappal police station in Aligarh district.
According to Congress sources, Mr. Gandhi is scheduled to spend the night in Siarol village. According to reports, there is heavy police deployment near the village.
Confirming that prohibitory orders under section 144 had been clamped on Aligarh, where, on July 9, the Congress “mahapanchayat” of farmers is scheduled to be held, Uttar Pradesh Home Secretary Deepak Kumar told journalists in Lucknow that it was up to the district administration to take appropriate measures taking into account the ground situation and any threats to peace. Mr. Kumar confirmed that permission for the mahapanchayat, which was sought by the Congress, had been granted by the Aligarh district administration.
After having spent Tuesday night in the house of a former pradhan, Kalicharan Sharma, in Rampurbangar village of Jevar block, Mr. Gandhi resumed his foot march at around 6.20 a.m. on Wednesday.
Upon reaching Saubatjaffarabad village, he held a chaupal (meeting) with the farmers and solicited their views on the land acquisition policy of the State government.
His next stop was Alawalpur, where he held another chaupal and rested at the house of Ramji Sharma, a farmer, before resuming his journey towards Vijainagar and Badhauna. At Siarol, he will spend Wednesday night in the house of farmer Harendra Singh.
During his daylong padayatra on Wednesday, the Amethi MP reportedly interacted with the farmers of neighbouring villages and school-children. In an informal chat with journalists on the way, Mr. Gandhi reportedly criticised the State and said that it should understand its responsibility towards farmers.
Critical of Mr. Gandhi's forays into the State, a Bahujan Samaj Party spokesman said, in a press release, that instead of the “enacting the drama in the name of farmers”, he should ask the United Progressive Alliance government to reduce the diesel and fertiliser prices.