Chinmayanand case: Congress denied permission for protest march; leaders and workers arrested in Shahjahanpur
As many as 80 Congress members were arrested on Monday after the Shahjahanpur administration denied them the permission to take out a 180km ‘padyatra’ (march) from that district to Lucknow in support of the 23-year-old law student who has accused former union minister Swami Chinmayanand of rape.
Agitated because of the denial of permission, many Congress workers protested at different places, including outside the party office in Shahjahanpur. Some even climbed up a water tank and the police had to struggle to bring them down.
Party workers in Bareilly, Lakhimpur Kheri and Lucknow were also stopped from reaching Shahjahanpur, claimed Congress.
In Shahjahanpur, the All India Mahila Congress president, Sushmita Dev, leader of opposition in UP Ajay Kumar Lallu, MLA Aradhana Mishra and other leaders, including former union minister Jitin Prasada, were detained early Monday morning. Later, they were taken to different police stations.
Through a video message shared online, Aradhana Misra said, “We wanted to take out a peaceful protest march but the government is trying to suppress us. This is the same attitude with which this government has put the victim behind the bars, while the rape accused is in the hospital.”
She said she and Sushmita Dev were taken to the Behta Gokul police station in Hardoi district.
Cong protest at district headquarters on Tuesday
Congress leaders, PL Punia and Akhilesh Pratap Singh, said during a press conference in Lucknow on Monday, “Around 5,000 Congress workers have been detained across various districts. They were joining the protest march. Priyanka Gandhi has called upon party workers to hold district level protests on Tuesday.”
UP is no Kashmir: Jitin Prasada
Jitin Prasada, who was put under house arrest in Shahjahanpur and then taken to a police station, told media persons, “Our leaders were rounded up and I am under house arrest. Why does the BJP government think this ‘yatra’ will become a law and order issue? This move is unacceptable. The government is trying to silence people’s voice.”
He also tweeted: “UP is no Kashmir, yet today, I am in preventive custody for simply wanting to highlight the plight of the Shahjahanpur rape victim. This BJP government has no qualms in quashing an individual’s fundamental rights.”
Section 144 raj in UP: Sushmita Dev
Talking to reporters, Sushmita Dev said that there was rule of section 144 in Uttar Pradesh. She was referring to the section 144 of the CrPC that prevents the assembly of more than four people in an area.
“This is their (government) idea of good governance. When we are not allowed to even take out a peaceful march, you can imagine the governance here. I am shocked,” she said, alleging that the government was sheltering Chinmayanand in the rape case.
Congress had planned a week-long foot march, called ‘nyay yatra’ (march for justice) from Shahjahanpur to Lucknow, to demand the release of the victim woman, who is behind bars on extortion charges, and booking Chinmayanand under stricter laws. The accused former minister, sent to judicial custody after his arrest, has been booked under section 376C (sexual intercourse by person in authority) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) -- a charge with lesser punishment than in case of rape.
The march was supposed to culminate in the state capital on October 7.
Administration not informed on time: Official
Shahjahanpur city magistrate, Vineeta Singh, said the district administration denied permission because the place mentioned as the launch area of the protest march was “too small to hold 2,000 people”. She said the Congress had mentioned the figure in its permission application.
Citing a High Court order, the administration, in a letter addressed to Congress district president Kaushal Mishra, said, “The administration should have been informed about such a protest seven days prior to the event.”
“Congress workers were arrested since they were protesting without the required permission,” said Singh.
Meanwhile, superintendent of police (city) Dinesh Tripathi said, “Congress workers were holding a meeting at a time when prohibitory orders were promulgated in the city and around 80 of them have been arrested. After arrest, they have been taken to the police lines.”
Priyanka tweets: What are they afraid of?
In a series of tweets, Priyanka Gandhi, general secretary of the All India Congress Committee (in-charge eastern UP), said, “The BJP government in UP wants to suppress the voice seeking justice for the daughter of Shahjahanpur. The foot march is being stopped. Our workers and leaders are being arrested. What are they afraid of?”
In another tweet in Hindi, she wrote: “Criminals in Uttar Pradesh have the protection of the government so they can intimidate the rape survivor.”
She further said, “When the government knows some people are protesting, they imposes section 144. People’s voices can’t be suppressed. The more they try (to suppress), the shriller the voice for justice will get.”