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Congress Sees Red After Permission Denied for March in Support of Jailed Shahjahanpur Student

Congress leader Jitin Prasada, who was put under preventive custody, questioned the administration's decision to not grant the party permission for the march, terming it unfortunate.


Updated:September 30, 2019, 7:20 PM IST
Congress Sees Red After Permission Denied for March in Support of Jailed Shahjahanpur Student
Congress CLP leader Ajay Kumar, who was arrested from his hotel, being taken to the police station. (Image: Twitter)

Lucknow: The Congress on Tuesday termed unfortunate the Uttar Pradesh administration's decision to disallow party leaders and workers from taking out a march from Shahjahanpur in support of the law student who had accused BJP leader Chinmayanand of rape. The law student has been in judicial custody after she was denied anticipatory bail in a case over the allegation that she had attempted to extort the rape accused.

About 80 Congress workers were Monday arrested at a public meeting ahead of the march, police said. The party leadership said there were several arrests in other areas of Uttar Pradesh too as police tried to stop the party's 'Nyay Yatra', a 180-km march for justice from Shahjahanpur to state capital Lucknow.

After the party was denied permission for the 'padyatra', Congress leaders Jitin Prasada and Ajay Kumar Lallu were placed under house arrest. Jitin Prasada hit out at the decision and said, "UP is no Kashmir yet today I am in preventive custody for simply wanting to highlight the plight of the Shahjahnpur rape victim. This BJP govt has no qualms in quashing an individual’s fundamental rights!"

In a statement to the media, he also questioned how the march is a "violation of law" and called the local administration's decision unfortunate.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra criticised the arrests. "The BJP government of UP is standing with the one committing atrocities on daughters and is taking protesting Congressmen into custody," Rahul Gandhi wrote on Twitter.

Priyanka Gandhi said, "The UP BJP government wants to suppress the voice seeking justice for Shahjahanpur's daughter. The padyatra is being stopped. Our activist leaders are being arrested. Why are they afraid?"

A large police force was deployed at the party's Shahjahanpur office ahead of the march and roads leading to it barricaded. The Congress said its members will now hold meetings in all district headquarters in the state on Tuesday to protest over this.

In Lucknow, Congress leader PL Punia claimed that over 5,000 party workers were arrested across the state. These included the state Mahila Congress president Sushmita Dev and MLA Aradhana Mishra, he said. The government is out to gag the voice of the Opposition and democracy, PUnia said.

Though the BJP leader was arrested after pressure from all over, he is resting in an AC room and the woman against whom sufficient evidence has not yet been found has been jailed," Punia said, referring to the student and the former Union minister who was shifted later from the jail to a hospital.

Party veteran Digvijaya Singh also questioned the decision of the administration insinuating a conspiracy in the matter. "Does Swami Chinmayanand have such a sway over Yogi (Adityanath)?"

"The girl is paying the price of raising her voice against a powerful BJP leader. While the former Minister is passing his days in an AC room of a medical institution, the girl is in jail. She needs support and we are with her," Congress leader Ajay Kumar Lallu had said demanding the survivor's immediate release.

The student was arrested last week and sent to 14 days' judicial custody. Along with three others, she has been charged with trying to extort money from the politician. Chinmayanand, sent to judicial custody after his arrest earlier, was booked under section 376C of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a charge with lesser punishment than rape.

The Congress has also been demanding security for the aggrieved family and a fast-track hearing of the case. Earlier, newly appointed national spokesperson Supriya Srinetra had said the BJP government had deliberately diluted the case against Chinmayanand.

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