Greater Noida: After Rahul Gandhi empathised the agitating farmers, pledging full support to them against land acquisition, UP police on Wednesday night arrested the Congress General Secretary.

"Rahul Gandhi has been arrested unde Sec 151 CrPC and will be presented before a Sub-Divisional Magistrate tomorrow," Inspector General of Police (Meerut Range) Rajnikant Mishra said.

Gandhi was taken away from the dharna site in Bhatta Parsaul Village in a grey Tata Safari to an undisclosed location.

The Amethi MP smiled to the large battery of media before getting into the vehicle along with AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh and Firozabad MP Raj Babbar

Rahul vows support to farmers

Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday pledged full support to farmers fighting against acquisition and promising not to desert them till their demands are met.

Riding pillion on a motorcycle in wee hours, Rahul sneaked into Batta Parsaul village, ground zero of the agitation in Western Uttar Pradesh and sat with the agitating farmers throughout the day in scorching heat to empathize with their cause and women who lost their men.

"I feel ashamed to call myself Indian after seeing what has happened here. The (state) government here has unleashed atrocities on its own people," the Congress General Secretary told the farmers.

Gandhi, who sat with the farmers for over 12 hours, said he associated with them as they were demanding their "right" and there was "nothing wrong" in it.

"I want to tell you that I am with you till your demands are met. Till your work is not done, the Congress party will not desert you," he said to a thunderous applause from the gathering which shouted slogans hailing him.

Earlier, after reaching the village at 4 AM along with party colleague Digvijay Singh, he heard the farmers and had tea with them. He also visited various hamlets.

Judicial probe demanded

Gandhi demanded a judicial inquiry into the exchange of fire on Saturday last between farmers and police in which two farmers and two policemen were killed.

SDM Vishal Singh met Rahul and asked him to end the dharna in view of the potential security risk to him in view of the situation in the area. Vishal Singh also expressed inability
to provide security as he had come without intimation.

Digvijay Singh said till a judicial inquiry submitted a report no action should be taken against the farmers in respect of FIRs lodged against them. He also demanded that all arrested farmers be released and that there should not be any forcible land acquisition.

The district administration and police were taken off guard by Gandhi's arrival.

Villagers narrate woes

Some of the villagers showed injuries inflicted on them allegedly by the police. They claimed that all young males have either been arrested by police or have fled the village out of fear.
The villagers claimed they were holding peaceful demonstration since January 17.

One elderly woman wept inconsolably in front of Gandhi over the loss of a kin in the clash.

IG Police Rajni Kant Mishra was in constant touch with top state government officials in Lucknow to seek directions on how to deal the tricky situation arising out of Rahul's dharna.

War of words erupt

A war of words erupted after Rahul’s visit, with BJP terming it as a "drama" and wanting to know why the UPA government was still not acting on his earlier promise of bringing Land Acquisition Bill in Parliament.

The Congress, on its part, said it was keen to get on early passage of the bill in Parliament.

Former Chief Minister and BJP leader Rajnath Singh alleged that the Congress and BSP were "hand in glove" as he questioned how Gandhi was allowed to reach the village when other leaders were arrested, citing prohibitory orders in force.

"Section 144 was lifted when two Congress General Secretaries Rahul Gandhi and Digvijay Singh went there. Now they are sitting on a dharna there. I appeal to Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not to do any nautanki (theatrics) in the biggest state of the country," Rajnath Singh told reporters.

In Lucknow, State Home Secretary Deepak Kumar said Section 144 that prohibits assembly of more than four persons at a place was lifted on Tuesday by the local administration in its wisdom. The local police also came to know about Gandhi's presence much later.

Rajnath demanded that Sonia should ask the two Congress leaders to come back from the village.

BJP alleged that by sitting on a dharna Rahul Gandhi was "fanning the flames" already burning in the state.

JPN/Agencies