Lucknow: Manish Jagan Agarwal, the in-charge of the Samajwadi Party’s (SP’s) IT cell, was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police on Sunday (January 8) morning in Lucknow. Annoyed by the arrest of the party office bearer, SP president Akhilesh Yadav reached the state police headquarters to register his protest.
Subsequently, a large number of SP workers came onto the roads and protested against the Uttar Pradesh government.
Akhilesh reached the police headquarters around 11 am and sat there for nearly three hours.
The former chief minister alleged that the “police and administration in UP are working as Bharatiya Janata Party workers”. While talking to the media, he also said that no senior police officials were present at the state police headquarters while he was there. “It is difficult to get justice in BJP-ruled UP, where higher authorities are not available to hear public grievances,” he said.
Without naming anyone, the SP president said that BJP leaders are causing SP workers to use defamatory language.
While Akhilesh was inside the police headquarters, SP workers started protesting outside.
To stop the crowd of SP workers from reaching the spot, police erected barricades on roads leading to the police headquarters. The workers broke the barricades and tried to reach anyway. Amidst this protest, minor scuffles were also reported between the party workers and police at some places near the police headquarters. Protestors were demanding the release of the SP’s IT cell in-charge and raising anti-police slogans.
The police lathi-charged the protesting SP workers outside the headquarters. This caused a minor stampede.
Senior SP leader Swami Prasad Maurya, also joined the protest in the afternoon. The situation turned volatile when the police tried to stop Maurya on his way to the police headquarters, which led to a harsh argument between SP leaders and police officials.
Later on, former chief minister Akhilesh came out of the police headquarters and moved toward the Lucknow jail, where the police had sent Manish Jagan Agarwal after his arrest. The party’s top leaders, lawmakers and workers accompanied him.
However, the jail authorities did not allow the former chief minister to meet Agarwal. Party leader Rajendra Chowdhry told The Wire over the phone, “Akhilesh went to meet the party office bearer in jail but jail authorities did not allow him to meet.”
Chowdhry continued, “The former chief minister went inside the jail, but the authorities did not allow him to meet Manish.”
Prashant Kumar, Additional Director General (Law and Order), told the press, “Police took action against the SP media cell in-charge as per law, and further action will be taken on the direction of the magisterial court.”
“Police have been getting complaints against the accused since November last year, and police found evidence that his social media posts crossed all the limits of decorum,” the ADG added.
On behalf of the UP police, Kumar also said that as it was a Sunday morning, there were less police officers at the headquarters.
According to the Lucknow police, a case has been registered against Agarwal under Section 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc.), 153B (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage the religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) 298 (uttering, words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 500 (defamation), 501 (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 505(2) (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred, or ill-will between classes), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code, and Sections 66, 67a, and 67b of the IT Act.
According to the Hazratganj police, a chargesheet has been attached based on evidence found against him in an earlier case registered against him under IPC Sections 153A, 500, 504, and Sections 66 and 67 IT Act.
Meanwhile, Naresh Uttam, the SP state chief, registered an FIR against BJP leader Richa Rajput. Rajput is the head of the BJP’s social media wing in Uttar Pradesh.
In his complaint to the Hazratganj police, Uttam alleged that Rajput posted defamatory posts against the wife of Akhilesh Yadav and MP Dimple Yadav on Twitter. Uttam claimed her post would embolden crime against women.
A case has been registered against the BJP leader under Sections 294 and 509 of the IPC and Sections 67 and 67a of the IT Act.
Akhilesh’s protest on Sunday was the first time in a while that he has taken on the state administration on the streets. The SP president’s silence on the arrest of party heavyweight Azam Khan had also drawn criticism. But in recent days, Akhilesh has been seen being more active. He even went to jail to meet with a lawmaker from his party, Irfan Solanki.