Greater Noida: There was late night action in Bhatta Parsaul on Wednesday as the Uttar Pradesh police first took Rahul Gandhi into preventive custody, and then released him on bail about two-and-a-half hours later. The twin villages in Greater Noida , on the outskirts of the national capital, have been the epicentre of protests for the last few days.
Mr Gandhi was taken away from the dharna site in Bhatta Parsaul in a grey Tata Safari to the Kasna police station. He was then given bail and dropped off at the Delhi-UP border. State Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi and Congress leaders Digvijaya Singh and Raj Babbar were also arrested and released with Mr Gandhi. (In pics: Rahul Gandhi arrested)
Rahul Gandhi and the other Congress leaders had planned to sit with the protesting farmers through the night.Sources said this was being seen as Rahul Gandhi taking on Mayawati on her home turf yet again.(Read: Opposition provoking farmers, says Mayawati)
The state government says Chief Minister Mayawati is being targetted. "At around 8 pm in the evening, the district administration recieved an application for a rally in Bhatta Parsaul by the Congress. So apprehending a law-and-order disruption by anti-social elements, section 144 was imposed again. That is why congress leaders have been taken into custody and they will be released on the border, "said UP Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh in Lucknow.
The state Congress President Rita Bahuguna Joshi described the arrest as an act of cowardice.The Congress party has issued a statement calling the arrest 'shocking' and said Mayawati is 'digging her own grave'. (Read: Rahul Gandhi's arrest not a solution to farmers' issue, says Congress)
The Congress general secretary had ridden pillion on a motorcycle into Bhatta Parsaul at 4 am on Wednesday morning, dodging the strong police force deployed there. It was only when he began meeting farmers and heard their grievances that the policemen recognised the young Congress leader, who has often slipped out of his security cordon in the past to meet people. (Read)
In comments there are likely to spark off a fresh political controversy, Rahul Gandhi slammed the state government and said, "I have seen the violence unleashed on your men and women. By seeing what has happened here, I feel ashamed to be an Indian. The state government is tormenting its own people. I was travelling with the Assistant District Magistrate and he told me that it is like Naxalism has reached here."
Mr Gandhi, who sat with the farmers for over 15 hours, said he associated with them as they were demanding their "right" and there was "nothing wrong" in it.
"I want to tell you that I am with you till your demands are met. Till your work is not done, the Congress party will not desert you," he said to a thunderous applause from the gathering which shouted slogans hailing him.
Earlier, an elderly woman told the AICC General Secretary how "brutally PAC men had manhandled women members of her family in the name of conducting a search" after the clashes broke out. Another elderly man showed injuries on his body allegedly inflicted by policemen with batons. (Watch: The aam aadmi's Rahul Gandhi)
Rahul Gandhi's party colleague Digvijay Singh, who accompanied him has demanded that till a judicial inquiry submitted a report no action should be taken against the farmers in respect of FIRs lodged against them. He also demanded that all arrested farmers be released and that there should not be any forcible land acquisition.
Bhatta Parsaul, in the suburbs of the national Capital, has turned into a political battleground for parties after four people, including two policemen, were killed in Saturday's clashes between police and farmers. The Opposition has flayed the UP government for its land acquisition policy.
Farmers in Greater Noida and adjoining areas are demanding more compensation from the Mayawati government for their land.
Farmers were paid a little over Rs. 800 per square metre. The same land was sold to developers at Rs. 3200 a metre. And those developers are now offering residential plots, for example, at more than Rs. 14,000 a metre.
The Jaiprakash Group, contracted to build the highway, was given 6000 acres by the state government. The company says that it needs to develop that land to offset the 10,000 crores it will spend on constructing the Yamuna Expressway. There are ten other companies like Waves, Paras, 3C who have also been given the land that was acquired from farmers at fantastically low prices.
Rahul, who is the MP from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, had last year visited Tappal Village in Aligarh district taking the local police by surprise when he went to meet farmers who had launched a protest demanding higher compensation for the land acquired by the Mayawati government for the Yamuna Expressway project.
BJP, SP slam Rahul Gandhi for visit to Bhatta Parsaul village
The BJP has slammed Rahul Gandhi for his visit to Bhatta Parsaul village. "I would like to remind you that Rahul earlier went to Tapal Gaon of Aligarh also. He had said that in the next Parliament session, the land acquisition amendment bill will be brought in. What has happened now? None of the bills have been bought to the Parliament. I want answers to all this," said BJP leader Rajnath Singh. (Watch)
The Samajwadi Party also hit out at the Congress leader. "Rahul Gandhi is sitting there on protest. Nothing will happen if he keeps sitting there. The Central government needs to take some steps and if Rahul Gandhi wants, this can be done. The Central government should compensate the farmers," said Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav.
(With PTI Inputs)