A team of Gujarat police on Friday barged into a live press conference and detained eight farmer leaders including Yudhvir Singh, one of the prominent leaders of "Samyukt Kisan Morcha", an umbrella body of over 40 farmer unions protesting against controversial farm bills for over four months.
Police said that the organisers didn't have permission to hold the press conference.
The conference had been organised by the Morcha at Radhe Restaurant and Banquet, Tapovan Circle, Motera in Ahmedabad at 12 PM. Five minutes after the leaders started addressing the media, police officials barged into the hall and forcefully took them away. The police team had already arrived and was waiting for the conference to begin.
"The organisers had not taken permission for the press conference," a local policeman told reporters at the spot. When contacted, Joint Commissioner of Police, sector-1, R V Asari told DH, "The organisers had no permission for such a gathering in Covid-19 times. There were lots of people at the spot."
The leaders were brought to police headquarters at Shahibaug. "We were just eight people. The police also manhandled several journalists. This is the first time that I have faced such a situation for simply holding a press conference. This is unbelievable. I have been part of many movements, have gone to places in India and abroad but never ever dragged out of a conference like this. We are not criminals. This is nothing but the arrogance of power," Yudhvir Singh, general secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union, said on the phone after his detention.
During the live press conference when the police were trying to take him away, he said, "This is wrong...this is a dictatorship. It's not a crime to talk to the press."
Among the detained were J K Patel, from Jagathat Foundation, Gajendra Singh, Dharpututra Trust, Subhash Chaudhary and Gajendrasinh Jhala, among others. The farmers' organisations have decided to organize events on April 4 and 5 "to strengthen the farmers' movement in Gujarat". A press release claimed that Rakesh Tikait, of Bharatiya Kisan Union, Yudhveer Singh and other leaders of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha will participate in the event.