New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi was whisked away by the police for the third time in two days as he arrived on Thursday evening at Jantar Mantar in the heart of Delhi to lead a protest march of his Congress party over the suicide of an army veteran.
The Congress Vice President was bundled into a police jeep and taken away in what the Congress called deja vu a day after he was detained twice and taken to multiple police stations as he tried to meet the family of Subedar Ram Kishen Grewal, who took poison on Tuesday over insufficient pension.
The police said that it was done "for his safety" as the crowds had surged when he arrived and were becoming unmanageable.
The police drove Mr Gandhi away from Jantar Mantar, the popular site for protests in Delhi, and insisted later that he was free to go, but he refused to budge from the jeep, challenging policemen to arrest or detain him. "I have been sitting here for half an hour. I was told it is because of 144 (ban on gatherings)," Mr Gandhi, 45, told reporters.
Later he went inside the police station to register a complaint, but the police refused to accept it. "I am a member of parliament and they are not accepting my complaint. If a MP's complaint is not taken note of what will happen to the common man?" Mr Gandhi told reporters before leaving the police station.
His protest, he said, was at the way the family of the former soldier was treated by the police yesterday
"The family was dragged at the police station. They were abused...that is not right. This affects the morale of our soldiers standing at the border. The government should apologise," he said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was also detained yesterday and kept waiting at a police station for five hours.
This morning, Mr Gandhi attended the Subedar's funeral in Haryana's Bhiwani as opposition parties seized upon the suicide, accusing the central government of failing to deliver on the One Rank One Pension (OROP) promise to retired army men.
The ruling BJP alleged that Mr Gandhi and the Congress were turning the veteran's suicide into a photo-op.
Subedar Grewal, who served in the Army for 30 years, ate sulphas tablets on Tuesday afternoon in the lawns of a government building in the heart of the capital. He died in hospital on Wednesday.