Cong leaders baton-charged, Mayawati slams oppn

Ghaziabad/Lucknow: Congress leaders and workers were on Thursday baton-charged and detained by UP police during a statewide protest by the party against the arrest of Rahul Gandhi even as Chief Minister Mayawati slammed the opposition for attempting to disrupt law and order in Greater Noida hit by violence over land acquisition.

Former BJP president Rajnath Singh, who launched a fast in Ghaziabad to protest the UP government`s land acquisition policy, was arrested along with senior party leaders Arun Jaitley and Muktar Abbas Naqvi.

In Lucknow, police baton-charged and detained several Congress leaders and workers, including UPCC president Rita Bahuguna Joshi. Several party workers were injured in the police action, party spokesman Subodh Srivastava said.

The Congress had announced a state-wide chakka jam to protest Gandhi`s arrest in Bhatta Parsaul last night and in support of farmers` demands in western UP. The Congress General Secretary was later released.

In Rae Bareli, two MLAs and MLCs along with other party workers were detained and later released after they blocked the national highway this morning.

Similar protests were held in other parts of the state including Jhansi, Meerut, Allahabad and Sitapur districts.

Calling Mayawati a "dictator", Congress leader Digvijay Singh, who was detained along with Rahul Gandhi last night in Greater Noida, demanded a judicial inquiry into alleged police brutalities in Bhatta Parsaul region.

Hitting back at the opposition, Mayawati said the clashes in Bhatta Parsaul in Greater Noida had nothing to do with the issue of land compensation.

"By spreading lies and rumours, opposition parties are attempting to disturb law and order situation by misleading people and Bhatta Parsaul incident is an example of their dirty politics," Mayawati told reporters in Lucknow.

She accused Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who staged a dharna in Bhatta yesterday before being detained and released, of indulging in "mean dramatics".

Condemning the violence in Bhatta Parsaul, Rajnath Singh said, "Mayawati has lost her moral right to continue as chief minister and she should resign.

"Land acquisition law needs to be scrapped and I shall raise the issue in Parliament. The UP government must stop acquiring the land until the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill comes from Parliament," he said while starting the fast at 12:30 PM here. He will continue the fast till noon tomorrow.

Speaking on the occasion, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley criticised the Centre for the delay in introducing the bill to amend the Land Acquisition Act.

He blamed the UPA`s government`s attitude on the issue for the "murders" of farmers in police firing in Greater Noida and said the Centre cannot escape responsibility.

Alleging Mayawati government`s nexus with private builders, he demanded that no further land be acquired.

Rajnath Singh was accompanied by over two dozen leaders of BJP and JD(U).