Hundreds detained as Congress takes on Mayawati government

Hundreds detained as Congress takes on Mayawati government

Shouting slogans against Uttar Pradesh's ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), a large number of Congress activists, led by the party's state president Rita Bahuguna, demonstrated near the state assembly demanding Chief Minister Mayawati's resignation.
"Even as our protests were peaceful, police roughed up our party activists, including several women workers. Police unnecessarily targeted us," Congress spokesperson Subodh Srivastava told reporters.

"We will continue with our struggle against the autocratic functioning of the Mayawati government and take up issues governing the farmers of the state," he added.
According to Lucknow District Magistrate Anil Sagar, the Congress workers were detained as they sought the permission of the authorities for carrying out protests.
"Their protests were illegal... Therefore, around 50-100 Congress workers, including Rita Bahuguna Joshi, were detained in Lucknow by the police which also resorted to mild force," said Sagar.

According to reports, Congress workers blockaded roads in various districts of Uttar Pradesh, including Sitapur, Banda, Mainpuri, Rae Bareli and Varanasi, and also carried out demonstrations on the railway tracks in Kanpur, Mathura and Agra.

In Allahabad, hundreds of Congress workers blockaded the Yamuna bridge, throwing  traffic out of gear. In Rae Bareli -- the parliamentary constituency of Rahul's mother Sonia Gandhi -- the party workers burnt effigies of Mayawati.

Rahul Gandhi was arrested late Wednesday while he was on a sit-in at Bhatta-Parsaul village in Greater Noida to support farmers demanding more money for their land being acquired for a highway project. He was released after being held for about three hours and later returned to New Delhi.

Riding pillion on a motorcycle Wednesday morning, the Congress scion sneaked into the village - barred to politicians and outsiders - to back farmers agitating for higher compensation for land acquired for the 156-km Yamuna Expressway that will link New Delhi with Agra. The highway is Mayawati's pet project.

He spent nearly 18 hours with the villagers before his late-night dramatic arrest.
Addressing agitating farmers earlier, Gandhi said the Uttar Pradesh government's high-handedness made him "feel ashamed to be an Indian".

There was high drama at the Kasna police station in Greater Noida where Gandhi, Joshi, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh and MP Raj Babbar were taken after the arrest at around 11 p.m.

Gandhi was asked to sign a bond after which police said he would be permitted to leave.
He, however, flatly refused to do so, saying he had gone to the village with a purpose and would return there if he was released, Congress sources said.
Police later released Gandhi at around 2 a.m. Thursday and he was driven back to New Delhi.

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