Ghaziabad/Lucknow: Congress leaders and workers on Thursday were baton-charged and detained by UP police during a statewide protest by the party against the arrest of Rahul Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi was arrested last night by the UP police capping a day of high drama after he slipped in unnoticed in pre-dawn hours to support the farmers agitating against the state's land acquisition process for an expressway project.

Cong protests Rahul arrest

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 on Thursday morning.

Calling Mayawati a ‘dictator’, Congress leader Digvijay Singh demanded a judicial inquiry into alleged police brutalities in Bhatta Parsaul region. Singh was also detained along with Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday night in Greater Noida.

Against the arrest of AICC General Secretary Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday night, Congress workers on Thursday staged a demonstration in parts of Mumbai and Kolkata.

Party MLA from Vile Parle, Krishna Hegde organised the protest outside the suburban railway station in Mumbai. Hegde said the Congress leader had gone to Bhatta Parsaul village to support the farmers who were fighting to protect their rights and were agitating against the state's land acquisition process for expressway project but UP police arrested him under the cover of darkness.

Similar protests were held in western suburbs of Kalina, Malad and Borivali in the metropolis.

Likewise, the Kolkata city came to a halt on Thursday after Congress supporters blocked roads at different places protesting against the arrest of Rahul Gandhi in Uttar Pradesh.

According to police, Congress workers blocked roads at Hazra in South Kolkata, Esplanade and Moulali in Central Kolkata and M G Road in North Kolkata and other places in the southern and northern fringes of the city.

Rahul Gandhi was arrested last night by the UP police capping a day of high drama after he slipped in unnoticed in pre-dawn hours to support the farmers agitating against the state's land acquisition process for a expressway project.

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

BJP flays UP land acquisition policy

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.

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 Friday noon.

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.

Maya slams Rahul

Mayawati says Rahul indulging in "mean theatrics" 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'.

"I would like to tell 'Yuvraj' that whatever struggle he has to do, he should do in his home first, as the decision is in the hands of the Centre.

"It seems that he is not being heard in his own home and he is venting his frustration by indulging in mean dramatics," she alleged.

Mayawati said that from time to time the Cabinet secretary has on her behalf clarified the situation, but still an attempt was being made to mislead people by associating the issue with land compensation.

"As a part of the conspiracy rumours are being spread that the land has been given for Yaumna and Ganga expressways, which is completely false," she said.

She said the land was taken for development under masterplan of the Greater Noida Authority."I strongly condemn false publicity despite repeated clarification," she said.

Mayawati said that farmers in Gautam Buddha Nagar gave their land to Greater Noida authority way back in 2009 and had taken the compensation.

"From this it is clear that the incident had nothing to with the compensation. This is dity politics of the opposition parties," she alleged.

(JPN/ Agencies)