50 BJP workers held in Pilibhit while awaiting Varun’s arrival (Lead)

March 28th, 2009 - 1:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Pilibhit (Uttar Pradesh), March 28 (IANS) Around 50 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers were arrested here Saturday after they blocked roads and clashed with the police while waiting for Varun Gandhi, the party’s nominee from Pilibhit for the Lok Sabha elections, to arrive and possibly get arrested for his alleged hate speeches, police said.
The workers were arrested for unlawful assembly as they violated Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that was in force in the area, police said.

“As many as 50 of our party workers, who were shouting slogans in favour of our bhaiya (Varun Gandhi) have been arrested,” BJP district president Yogendra Gangwar told IANS.

Senior BJP leader Kalraj Mishra told reporters here: “Varun will court arrest and will head to the collectorate after arriving here.”

A large number of BJP workers started gathering in Pilibhit, around 350 km from Lucknow, Saturday morning waiting for Varun Gandhi to arrive.

Security forces were deployed at the Khamariya bridge at the Pilibhit border and the Sungarhi police station has been put on high alert, officials said.

The BJP has planned a “grand road” show when Varun Gandhi reaches this district to court arrest, party sources said.

Varun Gandhi courted controversy after his reported hate speeches, which he claims were doctored, early this month during election rallies in the Pilibhit.

The 29-year-old Friday withdrew his bail application from the Delhi High Court and said he would court arrest. The Election Commission had asked for a criminal charge to be filed against him for his anti-Muslim speeches.

Asked what the BJP would do if the police did not take Varun Gandhi into custody, a top state party leader had said Friday: “The kind of crowd that is converging for Varun’s show in Pilibhit tomorrow will be enough to provoke the cops to arrest him.”

But police sources say there are minimal chances of Varun Gandhi being arrested.

“The investigations are on and the police also has the option to arrest anyone after completion of the investigation. Besides, we are also acting very carefully due the election environment in the country,” a senior police officer in Lucknow told IANS on condition of anonymity.

While Varun Gandhi would be staging his arrest in Pilibhit Saturday, BJP’s prime ministerial nominee L.K. Advani would be addressing his first public rally in the state at Maharajganj, where the party’s saffron-clad Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath holds sway.

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