THE ‘JAIL bharo’ agitation of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) saw some real action in the State capital on Monday with Congmen clashing with policemen on a number of occasions.
The police had to resort to lathicharge, use water canons and teargas shells to disperse agitated Congressmen, who continued to fight pitched battles in front of the Vidhan Bhawan and other nearby areas.
President of the UPCC Salman Khurshid, who along with Pramod Tiwari, Satyadev Tripathi, Sanjay Singh and others sat on a dharna in front of the Vidhan Bhawan to court arrest, was among those who received ‘lathi’ blows.
A red faced Khurshid could be seen fuming. Some Congressmen claimed that Khurshid could have been critically hurt had they not provided a shield to the UPCC president, who continued to ask partymen to apply restraint. Pramod Tiwari, who had his own security men around, also asked police officers to keep away from the spot where senior leaders were sitting on a dharna.
Khurshid declared that the Congress would continue to fight the Mulayam Singh Yadav government, whose days he said were numbered. Today’s incident reflected the frustration of the Mulayam government, he said.
The Mulayam government had no right to stay in power, said Tiwari. Sanjay Singh asserted that the Congress would only gain strength from such agitations.
There were, however, no arrests. So, instead of going to jail, the Congressmen walked down to the UPCC headquarters from where they had reached the Vidhan Bhawan in a large procession.
Other processions from other sides also joined it, making it a large gathering in front of the Vidhan Bhawan.
The trouble started when a group of Congressmen led by All India Mahila Congress president Rita Bahuguna Joshi broke the first police cordon. At this point some youths began breaking the windowpanes of the buses that had been kept in waiting there.
Soon, lathi-wielding policemen chased the Congressmen and even rained ‘lathis’ on Khurshid and other Congressmen, triggering a free-for-all at a number of points around the Vidhan Bhawan area.
Senior officers could be seen rushing from one spot to the other to control the situation.
There were occasions when policemen chased Congressmen for nearly 50 to 100 metres beyond Bapu Bhawan. There were also occasions when they reassembled at these points and chased the cops back towards the Vidhan Bhawan. The Congmen and cops could also be seen pelting stones at each other. The Congressmen also hurled their shoes at the cops.
At least 60 Congmen were injured in the lathicharge, said UPCC chief spokesman Akhilesh Pratap Singh. SP (east) Ajai Shankar Rai said some cops were also injured in the clashes.