Varun sent to Etah jail, approaches Supreme Court (Roundup)

April 1st, 2009 - 6:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi/Lucknow/Etah, April 1 (IANS) Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Varun Gandhi Wednesday moved the Supreme Court against his detention under the National Security Act (NSA) for his alleged hate speeches, shortly after he was shifted to the Etah jail from his Uttar Pradesh constituency Pilibhit amid protests by his supporters.
As Varun Gandhi was taken from the Pilibhit jail to Etah, 300 km away, in the dark hours preceding dawn, he was again the much discussed topic of the day.

As BJP and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) workers clamoured for his release outside the Etah jail, mother Maneka Gandhi called the shifting a political conspiracy while party president Rajnath Singh reiterated the BJP’s support to him in Raipur. The establishment in Lucknow stressed it was necessitated by security concerns.

Varun Gandhi approached the Supreme Court to challenge his detention under the stringent NSA, slapped by the Uttar Pradesh government Sunday for “inciting violence” prior to his arrest. He was being held illegally by the government, his lawyer and former additional solicitor general Mukul Rohtagi told a bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan.

The case will be taken up for hearing Thursday, the chief justice said.

In Etah, there was pandemonium outside the jail as party supporters shouted slogans and waited to meet Varun Gandhi. But the 29-year-old sent a message saying he wanted to rest and meet only his mother Maneka Gandhi, the five-time MP from Pilibhit who left the seat for her son’s electoral debut.

“Varun wrote on a piece of paper that he only wants to meet his mother and urged that the message should be read before the agitators in order to pacify them,” police inspector Nawaab Singh told IANS.

Addressing reporters before going inside the jail to meet her son, Maneka Gandhi said: “It is a political conspiracy against (him).” She added that it was illegal to transfer Varun Gandhi from one jail to other.

“…If he is harmed, Mayawati and the Congress will have to answer to the nation. He is not only my son but everyone’s son.”

The decision to move Varun Gandhi to Etah had been taken “for security reasons”, said Mukesh Arora, jailor of the Piliphit district jail.

“In view of the VHP strike, we decided to move Varun for law and order reasons,” Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Brijlal told reporters in Lucknow.

Officials in the state capital also denied this was linked to any threat to his life.

Denying media reports that Varun Gandhi, slapped with the NSA for his communal campaign speeches, was being targeted by mafia don Chhota Shakeel, a home ministry official said: “The decision to shift Varun to Etah was taken in the wake of the VHP threat to observe a Pilibhit bandh Wednesday.

“The move had nothing whatsoever to do with any kind of threat perception to his life,” the official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

The arrest of ‘the other Gandhi’, the son of the late Sanjay Gandhi, was the top of the mind issue for his BJP.

In the Chhattisgarh capital Raipur, party president Rajnath Singh said Varun Gandhi was being “politically and legally” supported by the BJP.

“The episode is a shame for the nation. The BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) and Congress are trying to trap him,” he said.

“I wanted to meet Varun but he is jailed in Uttar Pradesh and I am campaigning in other states. So I have asked Venkaiah Naidu to meet him and express the party’s support. The BJP is politically and legally rallying behind Varun Gandhi.”

In Bhopal, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said stood by him.

However, Bollywood star and the BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Hema Malini was not so forthcoming about the wannabe MP, in the dock on charges of vilifying Muslims in his speeches.

“The way Varun addressed the (election) rally (in Pilibhit) was not good. He is an inexperienced leader and this could be the reason his speech was that way,” Hema Malini told reporters in Ranchi.

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