Congress leaders going to Mayawati’s village arrested, freed (Lead)

July 29th, 2008 - 10:48 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Noida/New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) Senior Congress leaders, on way to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s native village to protest against her “land grabbing”, were arrested on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border Tuesday while 150 party activists were detained at her village. Uttar Pradesh police arrested Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, Dausa MP Sachin Pilot and state party president Rita Bahuguna Joshi while they were on way to Mayawati’s Badalpur village, where the state Congress unit had organized a farmers’ agitation.

The Congress leaders were taken to a state ele4ctricity board guesthouse at sector-38 in Noida, where they were detained for six hours and allowed to leave for Delhi in the evening.

Besides the senior leaders, the police arrested about 150 Congress workers in Badalpur village.

About two dozen farmers were injured when the police cane-charged them while they were opposing the “discriminating land acquisition policy” at Chief Minister Mayawati’s village Badalpur.

Joshi said the Greater Noida authority was acquiring land in Badalpur village at a price that was six times less than the prevailing market price. She said the authority was developing a world class recreation centre in and around the Mayawati’s mansion at her village.

Joshi said: “It was an injustice with the poor farmers so the Congress has decided to oppose it. Today it was token protest, next time we would take up this issue in a big way after intimating the administration well in time.”

“We wanted to participate in the meeting which was organised to protest against the arbitrary land acquisition in Badalpur village. We wanted to support the farmers who were demanding a fair price for their land,” Pilot told IANS by telephone.

The Congress party has accused the chief minister of constructing a palatial house over 47 ‘bighas’ (over 18 acres) of land in her village and the district has issued notices for land acquisition for 230.554 hectares in Badalpur, and 142.160 hectares in adjacent Saadupur.

The Congress also alleged that the Mayawati government was also to acquire lands in two other neighbouring villages of Acheja and Bisnaula.

Pilot said the district administration stopped the leaders’ cars at the Delhi-UP border and arrested them. Later, the police also arrested farmers who came to take part in the rally, he added.

Although the rally did not take place, the Congress leaders promised to carry on with their protests.

“We will not give up. We will see that these protests reach a logical conclusion,” Pilot said.

The protest and the arrests came in the wake of worsening ties between the Congress and its one-time ally BSP. The Uttar Pradesh chief minister and her party were in the forefront to ensure the defeat of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in the recent trust vote in parliament.

Although Prime Minister Manmohan Singh won the trust vote, the differences are expected to deepen further as the Congress joined hands with the BSP’s archrival Samajwadi Party to win the confidence vote after its Left allies withdrew legislative support.

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