LUCKNOW: Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav was detained on Monday afternoon for violation of prohibitory orders in Lucknow when he staged a sit-in at Raj Bhawan intersection after he was stopped from heading to Kannauj to lead a Kisan Yatra in support of farmers’ protest against the new farm laws.
Akhilesh, along with hundreds of party workers, was taken to the Eco Park where he remained in police custody for five hours before he and his supporters were released. Police action in Lucknow triggered widespread protests by SP workers across the state.
Police said Akhilesh Yadav was detained under Section 188 of the CrPC and provisions of the Epidemic Act for violation of Section 144 which prohibits assembly of four or more people at a public place. Action was initiated against other party workers under Section 151 of the CrPC and other provisions of law, police added.
Earlier, speaking to reporters during the sit-in, Akhilesh described the police action as a reflection of the BJP’s dictatorial functioning. “I don’t know why I am being stopped from going to Kannauj. What is the government afraid of Police have seized my vehicles to stop me but I will head to Kannauj if need be,” Akhilesh said.
Later, Akhilesh also shot a letter to Lok Sabha Speaker complaining about police restrictions on his movement in the state.
Accusing the BJP government of neglecting farmers, the SP chief said the government has brought laws to deprive the farmers of their land in the days to come. “The government is systematically shutting down mandis (farm markets) and is yet to fulfil its promise of doubling the income of farmers,” he said. “When will the government bring a law that will ensure that the income of farmers is doubled,” he asked. Akhilesh said no matter how hard the government tries to crush SP’s protest, its party leaders and workers will stand by the protesting farmers till the end.
Lucknow police commissioner DK Thakur said that all those having categorised security have to inform about their movement in advance as a security protocol. “Former CM Akhilesh Yadav had informed me and DM Kannauj about his movement to join farmers’ agitation in Kannauj. However, late on Sunday we received a message from DM Kannauj citing Covid-19 condition to not allow movement of Akhilesh Yadav. Based upon this request, we had made adequate security arrangements and when Akhilesh Yadav staged a sit-in at Bandariya Bagh crossing, he was detained and taken in a police vehicle to Eco-garden and later released,” Thakur told TOI.
Police went after SP leaders and workers across the state to stop them from heading to Kannauj for the kisan rally. In Ballia, SP veteran and leader of the opposition in the state assembly, Ram Govind Chaudhary, was stopped from heading to Kannauj, while former SP MP Dharmendra Yadav was arrested for leading a Kisan Yatra in Budaun. Reports of protesting SP workers being put under house arrest or taken into custody while leading party workers to Kannauj also came from 29 districts including Ghaziabad, Meerut, Ambedkar Nagar, Kanpur, Varanasi.
Police had laid siege outside the residence of Akhilesh Yadav and the party office, both located on Vikramaditya Marg in Lucknow, at daybreak on Monday. SP workers jostled with the police and broke through the barricades on several occasions at Raj Bhawan crossing while heading towards Vikramaditya Marg.
As the news about the police action spread, party leaders started heading for SP headquarters. The first to arrive were party MLCs, Ashu Malik and Rajpal Kashyap. They were stopped from heading towards the party headquarters and taken into preventive custody when they tried to defy the restrictions. SP workers began to gather at the protest site till Akhilesh Yadav finally stepped outside the house around 12:30pm. Once the police stopped him from getting into his vehicle, Akhilesh started off on foot and pushed through the barricading outside his residence to reach the Bandariya Bagh intersection. He staged a dharna in the middle of the road and was detained an hour later