Congress member arrested in Uttar Pradesh

September 26th, 2008 - 4:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia GandhiLucknow, Sep 26 (IANS) A senior Congress functionary in Uttar Pradesh who has been filing Right To Information (RTI) applications on projects initiated by the Mayawati government was arrested here early Friday. Shailendra Singh, chairperson of the party’s Uttar Pradesh Right To Information Task Force, was taken into custody at 1.30 a.m. Friday.

The move prompted the Congress to allege that the police machinery was being used to settle political scores. The party has threatened to launch a state-wide agitation if he is not released immediately.

A delegation of the senior state party leaders also met Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi at the Lucknow airport Friday morning to apprise her of the issue. On Friday Gandhi was on her way to her Lok Sabha constituency Rae Bareli for a two-day visit.

Singh was arrested from his house for allegedly misbehaving with the senior officials of the State Information Commission and damaging government property together with his supporters.

He was a provincial police service officer before he resigned as deputy superintendent of police in 2004 to join the Congress party.

“Singh played an important role in the effective implementation of the RTI Act in the state and exposed the government’s tendency to conceal information related to public interest,” state Congress president Rita Bahuguna Joshi said at a press conference Friday.

Singh went to meet the acting chief information commissioner (CIC) Gyanendra Sharma Thursday afternoon. “He and his associates only demanded from the CIC to keep the RTI website updated and ensure effective implementation of the act in the state,” she added.

But he has been framed and jailed under false charges, the Congress party alleged.

Besides various sections of the Indian Penal Code and Public Property Damage Act, Singh has been booked under Section 7 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act and a case registered in the Hazratganj police station.

“The FIR was registered on a complaint by a senior official of the CIC office and we arrested him,” Inspector A.S. Chauhan of Hazratganj police station said.

Singh was shifted to the Lucknow district jail Friday afternoon after the district court rejected his bail application.

“The criminal law amendment act was invoked against him to ensure he did not get bail,” Joshi alleged.

She said the government wanted to prevent Singh from filing a counter-affidavit in the Supreme Court in connection with a public interest litigation (PIL) he had filed on expenses involved in the reconstruction of the Ambedkar Park in Gomti Nagar.

Ambedkar Park is a memorial to Dalit icon Dr B.R. Ambedkar as well as Kanshi Ram, the founder of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and mentor of Chief Minister Mayawati. The chief minister had ordered reconstruction of concrete structures in the park, which she had erected in her earlier tenures.

Singh had challenged this in the high court, which had stayed the reconstruction and the government had moved the apex court against the verdict. The case is in progress and Singh is to file a counter-affidavit in the Supreme Court Sep 29.

The state Congress president alleged: “Besides this case, Singh had been filing a number of RTI applications to expose the government’s wrongdoings.”

“We are going to organise a statewide agitation and we demand immediate release of Singh and withdrawal of the wrong case against him,” Joshi said.

A delegation of senior state congress leaders also met Gandhi at the Amausi airport in Lucknow Friday morning.

“Sonia Gandhi has assured us of all possible help,” she added. Gandhi returns to Delhi Saturday evening.

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