Akhilesh Yadav, MP and former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, detained in Lucknow just before he was to participate in a kisan yatra in support of the protesting farmers

Published : December 07, 2020 20:49 IST

Akhilesh Yadav, MP and former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Photo: PTI

In politically simmering Uttar Pradesh, the western parts of which have become one of the epicentres of the ongoing farmers’ protests, former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was detained outside his residence in Lucknow today. Akhilesh Yadav, who heads the Samajwadi Party (S.P.), was scheduled to participate in a kisan yatra. A statement from the S.P. said permission for the yatra had been taken from the State administration.

Akhilesh Yadav was detained shortly after he launched a sit-in protest outside his house in support of the agitating farmers. He was scheduled to head for Kannauj for the planned yatra against the Centre’s “black farm laws” that have seen farmers in Punjab and all across the country hold demonstrations for days.

Akhilesh Yadav wrote on Twitter that there was a massive deployment of police force outside his residence. “The police even took my vehicle under their control. This undemocratic behaviour of the State government is not only an infringement of my rights as a citizen but also of special privileges as an LS [Lok Sabha] member. Kindly interfere so that my right to my democratic duties is rested,” he wrote. He further tweeted: “Step by step, bow your head. Yeh jung hai zameen ki [This is a war for land]. Join the ‘Kisan Yatra’!”

His party leaders said they were baffled at his detention as this was a direct assault on the opposition’s democratic right to protest against the government’s policies. Ram Pratap Singh, S.P. spokesperson, said: “This is unusual. How can any government stop opposition leaders from holding peaceful protests against sweeping laws?”

Speaking to Frontline over the phone from Lucknow, Ram Pratap Singh said the programme would not have violated any COVID-19-related protocol as “this was only a yatra aimed at creating awareness against the farm laws”.

Earlier, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that “the opposition parties are betraying the spirit of values, ideologies and principles in politics by unleashing anarchy in the name of opposing the farm laws and extending support to the Bharat Bandh call”.

Akhilesh Yadav dismissed Yogi Adityanath’s allegations that the opposition was indulging in political opportunism. He said the S.P. was a “party primarily of farmers”. He said: “Our protest is neither sudden nor opportunistic. We have been raising our voice against the Centre’s corporatisation of the farm sector from the beginning. We are a party that has a large number of farmers in its rank and file. We are fighting for their rights. We are going to continue offering resistance against this government’s anti-farmer policies.”

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