Samajwadi Party alleges police excesses on Mayawati birthday bash protesters (Lead, Changing dateline)

January 15th, 2009 - 7:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Bahujan Samaj PartyLucknow/New Delhi, Jan 15 (IANS) Uttar Pradesh’s main opposition Samajwadi Party accused the police of using force against its workers who were protesting against the alleged extortion by Chief Minister Mayawati’s followers ahead of her birthday Thursday.Over 1,000 Samajwadi Party activists were detained across the state by 3 p.m., party officials said in Lucknow.

Led by senior Samajwadi Party leader Shivpal Singh Yadav, activists clashed with police in the Uttar Pradesh capital as they marched towards Mayawati’s residence to hold demonstrations, they said.

Over 100 Samajwadi Party activists were hurt when police resorted to baton charge in Lucknow’s Qaiserbagh locality, they added.

However, Superintendent of Police (West) Paresh Pandey said: “We only used mild force to disperse the protesters.”

Ram Gopal Yadav, national general secretary of the Samajwadi Party, told reporters in New Delhi: “The police cane-charged hundreds of our partymen who were protesting peacefully and a large number of our people, including a couple of MPs and legislators, have received grievous injuries.”

While Mayawati’ birthday every year is celebrated as “arthik sahayog divas” (monetray help day) when her Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) workers collect funds for the organisation, the opposition has alleged that many leaders were extorting money for the occasion and blamed an engineer’s murder last month, allegedly by a BSP legislator, on the fund-raising drive.

In her speech earlier in the day, Mayawati said that her party had collected double the funds received last year “thanks to the opposition campaign”.

But Yadav said: “It was due to the fear after PWD engineer M.K. Gupta’s murder that government officials and people gave large amounts of money to save their lives.”

The Samajwadi Party’s acting Uttar Pradesh president Shivpal Singh Yadav said in Lucknow: “We were begging on the streets in order to collect money to donate to Mayawati when the police brutally assaulted us.”

The Samajwadi Party, the state’s main opposition, carried out a series of protests and demonstrations in various districts, including Gorakhpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Saharanpur, Pratapgarh as a part of its “Thu-Thu Diwas” (condemnation day) programme.

The Congress party also held demonstrations in Lucknow, demanding Mayawati’s resignation for her party’s alleged role in the killing of the engineer.

“Mayawati always celebrates her birthday as extortion day and her legislators and partymen do not even hesitate in killing people to extort money. The BSP is anti-people and all progressive forces in Uttar Pradesh should unite and uproot this government,” Congress spokesperson Manoj Tiwari said in New Delhi.

Activists of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were also cane-charged by police as they marched to Mayawati’s residence.

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