- Akhilesh Yadav was detained by the police in Lucknow
- Officials sealed the road leading to his house ahead of his "Kisan Yatra"
- Akhilesh Yadav broke through police barricades placed near his residence
Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was today detained by the police after he led a brief sit-in protest in Lucknow even as the administration sealed the road leading to his residence right ahead of his "Kisan Yatra" scheduled in Kannauj district.
A little past noon, Mr Yadav, wearing his party's trademark red cap, and along with a bunch of supporters, broke through police barricades placed near his residence on Lucknow's Vikramaditya Marg. Following resistance by the police, he and his supporters squatted in the middle of the road as SP workers raised slogans against the government.
Shortly afterwards, he was detained by the police, put in a bus and taken away from the spot in the heart of Lucknow.
Earlier, the authorities had informed that the Kisan Yatra had been denied permission, and detained several SP leaders, besides sealing Vikramaditya Marg. The clampdown had been justified citing the COVID-19 protocol in place across the state.
"We were informed that people will gather at one spot and launch a procession from there, and I understand that any crowd that remains static for half an hour or an hour, doesn't help anyone, not even the SP President. We had even requested that the programme be dropped," Kannauj district magistrate Rakesh Mishra told NDTV.
Talking to NDTV later, Mr Yadav said the coronavirus was merely an excuse to crush opposition. "There's no COVID-19 for BJP. If the opposition wants to carry out programmes, there is COVID," he said.
The 13-km Kisan Yatra from Thathia to Tirwa in Kannauj was to launch the SP's farmer marches across all districts of Uttar Pradesh.
Earlier, in an ostensible response, Mr Yadav had tweeted an Urdu couplet, roughly translated as, "Wherever one looks, the people are against you. Oh tyrant, who all will you detain?"
He spoke to NDTV about the farmers' alleged plight and the BJP's failed promises. "The BJP promised to double farmer income but where is the law? In UP, no one is managing to sell paddy for over Rs 1,000 a quintal," Mr Yadav said.
Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting in and around Delhi demanding a repeal of three agricultural laws brought in by the central government in September. Several political parties, including the Congress, the BSP, and now the SP, have voiced their support for the protesters, and in recent weeks sought a repeal of the new laws.