Stage is set for the India Against Corruption (IAC)’s ‘Challo Farrukhabad’ rally against Union minister and local MP Salman Khurshid on Thursday afternoon.
The rally would begin from the Awas Vikas Ground and the entire town and even the rural areas have posters, banners, flags and hoardings of it.
The Uttar Pradesh government has stepped up security in Farrukhabad for a protest to be staged here by India Against Corruption (IAC) activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal.
Farrukhabad is the parliamentary constituency of external affairs minister Salman Khurshid, who faces allegations of irregularities in the Dr Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust run by him and wife Louise Fernandes.
IAC leader Arvind Kejriwal reached Lucknow by Padmavat Express from Delhi on Thursday morning and travelled to Farrukhabad in a convoy along with other IAC activists like Kumar Viswas, Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh. IAC leaders Gopal Rai reached Farrukhabad from Ghaziabad while Illias Azmi was already camping in Farrukhabad.
With supporters of the union minister and Congress workers threatening a 'black flag' welcome to the IAC activist and his supporters as he enters the district, and with IAC activists supported by the cane-wielding Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) ready to move in, the administration smells trouble.
"We anticipate trouble. Security has been tightened. No one will be allowed to take the law into their own hands," a senior police official said.
The inspector general of police (Kanpur) has already held a meeting with district police officials, asking them to be alert to the possibility of disruptive elements slipping into the crowd and fomenting trouble.
Two companies of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) are being moved into Farrukhabad from Agra to augment the strength of the local police, an official said.
Fears of untoward incidents were heightened as Congress workers and supporters of the external affairs minister also seem to be gearing up for a showdown. Many Congress workers have begun to wear "Main hoon Salman" caps, aping the "Main hoon Aam Aadmi" caps of IAC activists.
BKU members, who are backing Kejriwal in strength as they see him as coming to their aid as land was being "looted by developers", swear that they will protect Kejriwal and his aides from harm.
Police have instructed the BKU workers not to move around with their traditional 'lathis' (sticks).
Superintendent of Police (SP) Farrukhabad N Chowdhary said that his men were ready for Thursday's event.
"Additional forces are here, we're ready," he said. Police, however, said no ban has been imposed on showing black flags etc., as the right to protest was part of democracy.
Rattled by Kejriwal's allegations that the trust that he ran with his wife had misused funds to the tune of Rs. 71.50 lakh meant for the welfare of disabled people, and forged signatures of government officials, Khurshid told his supporters Oct 17 that while Kejriwal was welcome in Farrukhabad, he should also make sure that he could go back.
IAC activists have claimed that the minister had resorted to intimidation, instigating trouble.
The entire city has been converted into a fortress and security personnel have been deployed at all corners of the city to prevent any untoward incident.
Temporary jails have been set up while several buses have been acquired to ferry the protestors in case of any violence. Several companies of PAC and additional police forces have been rushed from adjoining districts.
District Congress has announced it would oppose the rally while Bharatiya Kisan Union's (BKU) has declared it would prevent the Congressmen, charging up the atmosphere.