BJP leaders Rajnath Singh, Jaitley arrested

Ghaziabad: Senior BJP leaders Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi were arrested here by the Uttar Pradesh Police when they were agitating in support of farmers of Greater Noida who want more compensation from the state government for their acquired land.

The arrests evoked a strong reaction from the party which alleged that Uttar Pradesh was being run under a "dictatorship" and vowed to continue its protest "irrespective of repression".

The BJP leaders were arrested on charge of breach of peace under section 151 CrPC and taken to the police lines in a police van in the district where prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC which do not allow assembly of four or more persons were already imposed.

Rajnath Singh had started a 24-hour fast today at the Ambedkar park here to protest against atrocities on farmers by the UP government. Jaitley and Naqvi, along with some state unit leaders of BJP, had gathered to support him.

After the arrest, Rajnath said wherever he is kept under detention, his fast would continue till 11 AM tomorrow.

He alleged that there was utter lawlessness and rampant corruption in Uttar Pradesh under the BSP government.

Earlier, the former UP Chief Minister said if a BJP government came to power it would form a commission to investigate all corruption cases against the Mayawati government.

"The situation in UP is such that even legitimate protest is prohibited. This is an intolerant government. Our protest will continue irrespective of repression," Jaitley told PTI after the arrest.

Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha alleged that Mayawati was being dictatorial and acting like an "Ottoman ruler".

"UP is being run like under a dictatorship. Sitting on a hunger strike for 24 hours is an absolutely assured democratic right. How can you arrest somebody not indulging in looting or rioting? Which law was broken that necessitated their arrest. I am absolutely shocked at the behaviour of the government," Sinha said.

He maintained that it was the Mayawati government which had ordered firing on the agitating villagers.

"If the opposition goes there, you cannot find fault with them. It is our duty to reach out to the farmers in this hour of need," he said.

The former union minister insisted Mayawati was acting in a "very unwise manner".

"This is not the way this issue will be surpressed and if she does not allow expression of opposition then she is in for a great deal of trouble…. If she thinks she a ruler like the Ottoman king then she is completely mistaken," Sinha said.

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar maintained that both Congress and BSP were responsible for the present state of affairs. .

"Congress is responsible for not passing the amendment to the Land Acquisition Act while BSP is at fault for the total anarchy in the state where goondas are ruling and nobody has the right to live peacefully and protest peacefully," Javadekar said.

Naqvi, who was arrested along with Rajnath Singh and Jaitley, said Rahul Gandhi had "used the hut of a poor farmer for a photo-opportunity" yesterday during the dharna at Bhatta Parsaul village and alleged he was not serious about the welfare of the poor.

RLD Chief Ajit Singh met Rural Development Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh to demand Centre`s intervention on the farmers` agitation.

"The 1894 Land Acquisition Act which is still in force is the root cause of all these problems and a lot of talk is going on about amending it but nothing has happened," Singh said.

He said he had made several suggestions to Deshmukh on the issue.

"We want to redefine public purpose…. How the market price of land is decided. If the government does not use the land for the purpose it was taken, it should be returned," he said.

Ajit Singh pressed for time-bound decisions, determination of market price, definition of purpose and how to return the land.

"All government scams in the last 20 years have been land scams. Whether it is military land, farmers` land or flouting of environmental norms, taking over hills…," Singh said.

Though he admitted that there were several lacunae in the Land Acquisition Bill, he said it did not give Mayawati the right to pay farmers Rs 800 while "the government is getting Rs 11,000 and she herself is pocketing Rs 11,000".