Lucknow: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists clashed with police in Lucknow on Thursday when their protest against the central government's failure to contain rising prices turned violent.
Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets and used water cannons to disperse the protesters, who threw stones at the security personnel. Police were trying to stop the protesters from marching towards the state assembly.
Police claimed no one was injured in the incident, but the opposition party alleged a large number of party workers were seriously injured after police baton charged them.
"We are getting calls from several hospitals, where hundreds of our workers were admitted after they received serious injuries in police lathicharge and other violent methods adopted against us by the security personnel," Pankaj Singh, son of former BJP president Rajnath Singh, told reporters.
Rajnath Singh told reporters: "Our's is a democratic country, still police today (Thursday) behaved in an autocratic manner to suppress our peaceful demonstration... Police threw stones at our leaders and also resorted to force against them without any reason. Even I had to use a chair as a cover to protect myself from police."
"Police without reason used force against us and injured several of our leaders. It's disgraceful on the part of the Uttar Pradesh government, on whose directions we were targeted today. We will definitely raise the issue in parliament," he added.
Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said that police atrocities against the party workers reflected "the inhumane nature of the government that prompted police to resort to violence against the party workers who were carrying out peaceful demonstrations".
"Police repeatedly ignored the appeals of Rajnath ji and other party leaders to not use force against us... However, not paying any heed towards such appeals, the police continued to bash us," he alleged.
Led by senior leaders including Rajnath Singh, Murli Manohar Joshi, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Vinay Katiyar, BJP workers from across the state converged at the Jhule Lal Vatika to participate in a "Maha rally against inflation, corruption".
After they were addressed by the senior leaders, party workers armed with saffron flags marched towards the assembly but were stopped by police. Agitated party workers then started clashing with police and tried to force their way through the barricades put up to stop them.
Venting their ire against the security personnel, agitated BJP workers even manhandled Superintendent of Police (Trans-Gomti) Paresh Pandey after holding him captive for some time.
Pandey could only be rescued after the intervention of Rajnath and other party leaders of the party, who appealed to the BJP workers to release the police officer.