At least, 80 Congress workers, including former Union minister Jitin Prasada, were arrested on Monday in Shahjahanpur when they were holding a public meeting ahead of
Accusing the Uttar Pradesh Police of blocking the march, the Congress said its leaders, including Prasada, were detained. District borders of Shahjahanpur have been blocked from all sides, the Opposition party added on its official Twitter handle.
District borders in Shahjahanpur have been blocked from all sides, Congress leaders like Shri @JitinPrasada have been detained & the protest march has been blocked by UP police. #BJPBhagaoBetiBachao pic.twitter.com/R1Eml3O8SV
— Congress (@INCIndia) September 30, 2019
According to Superintendent of Police (city) Dinesh Tripathi, Congress workers were holding a meeting in front of the party office at a time when prohibitory orders were promulgated in the city and 80 of them have been arrested. "They had not taken any permission from the administration. After arrest, they have been taken to Police Lines," Tripathi said.
Police sources claimed that Prasada, district Congress president Kaushal Mishra, leader of Congress Legislative Party in the UP Assembly Ajay Kumar Lallu and senior party leader Dheeraj Gurjar were among those arrested and kept at Police Lines.
Heavy police force was deployed at the Congress office in view of the march and roads leading to it were barricaded. However, many Congress workers reached the spot and started a public meeting.
Mishra claimed he and Prasada were under house arrest. "SDM (sub-divisional magistrate) Sadar and CO (circle officer) City told me that I and Jitin Prasada have been put under house arrest. When they were asked as to why a heavy police force was deployed outside the residence of Prasada, we were told that no one will be taking out any padyatra," Mishra told PTI. Mishra claimed authorities told him that no one would be taking out any rallies.
There was heavy police deployment outside the residence of Prasada from 10 in the morning.
The 'Nyay yatra' by the Congress, was reportedly a planned a 180-km march from Shahjahanpur to Lucknow, which was aimed in solidarity with the girl student who had levelled rape allegations against BJP leader and former union minister Swami Chinmayanand.
UP is no Kashmir yet today I am in preventive custody for simply wanting to highlight the plight of the Shahjahnpur rape victim. This BJP govt has no qualms in quashing an individual’s fundamental rights! pic.twitter.com/vHmVEx5wo6
— Jitin Prasada (@JitinPrasada) September 30, 2019
Prasada was seen questioning police over the denial of holding the padayatra and asked whether or not holding a protest seeking justice for a person was wrong.
"Congress today wanted to hold a march to highlight the plight of the Shahjahanapur rape victim but the local administration is not allowing it. Tell me how is it a violation of the law? It is unfortunate," Prasada told reporters.
Prasada had accused the Yogi Adityanath-led government of crushing voices of dissent. In his Twitter post, the Congress leader attached a letter of the District Magistrate Shahjahanpur addressed to the party's district committee president Kaushal Mishra.
According to the letter, the public meeting was to be held on Monday at 10 am followed by a 'padayatra' from Congress office in the town and was to go through several places like Sadar Bazaar, Bahadurganj and Ghantaghar on the way to Lucknow.
"This is to inform you that currently festival season is going on and Navratri, Durga Puja and Dusshera functions are being held. The proposed route of the 'padayatra' passes through busy markets due to which it is not possible to give police protection. Also, the place cannot accommodate nearly 2,000 people during the public meeting," the letter said.
"As Section 144 (which prohibits the gathering of more than four people) is imposed in Shahjahanpur district, it is not possible to organise a programme of such a large scale. Hence, the administration has denied permission to hold the 'padayatra'," it said.
A local court in Shahjahanpur had on 20 September sent Chinmayanand to 14 days of judicial custody for allegedly sexually assaulting the law student. He was charged with an offence not amounting to rape, stalking and criminal intimidation.
Earlier, during the SIT interrogation, the student had accepted that she instigated one of her friends to send messages to Chinmayanand demanding extortion money. After her confession, she was arrested and produced before the court, which sent her to judicial custody for 14 days.
The law student went missing on 24 August after a video of her alleging that a person from 'Sant Samaj' had threatened to kill her and her parents went viral on the social media.
The girl, who studied in a college run by Chinmayanand, had later testified before a local court that she was repeatedly raped by the BJP leader for over a year. She said that the accused recorded the incidents on camera and used them to blackmail her.
Chinmayanand, who was the Minister of State for Home in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, was admitted to Lucknow's Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences on 23 September after he complained of chest pain.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Sep 30, 2019 13:47:47 IST