LUCKNOW: The Samajwadi Party workers on Monday held demonstrations in various places of Uttar Pradesh in support of agitating farmers demand to scrap the three central farm laws and clashed with police at some places in the state.
In Lucknow, the SP workers clashed with police in the Kaisarbagh area on being stopped from proceeding to the district collectorate.
Several SP workers, including women, were also taken into custody.
In Agra too, television footage showed police using mild force to disperse protesting Samajwadi Party workers.
Following demonstrations by its workers during the day, the Samajwadi Party accused the police of resorting to "barbaric" lathi-charge against its workers at several places in the state and arresting "thousands" of party leaders and workers.
"On directives of party president Akhilesh Yadav, workers held peaceful sit-ins in all districts. The police, however, engaged in barbaric lathi-charge and arrested thousands of party leaders and workers," SP chief spokesman Rajendra Chowdhury said in a statement.
In his reaction to the police action against SP activists, Akhilesh Yadav said his party will continue to protest against the BJP government which, he said, is "killing democracy".
"By stopping peaceful protests, the BJP government is killing democracy. Despite the atrocities of the BJP government, the party would continue its protest inside and outside the legislature," said Yadav.
"In 2022, after the formation of SP government, we will take farmer-friendly measures and they will be given due honour and security," said the SP chief envisaging his return to power after the 2022 UP assembly elections.
Asked about SP workers' demonstration and lathi-charge on them, UP's Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said the police cannot allow "mischievous elements" to infiltrate the farmers' agitation.
"Police is ensuring that mischievous elements do not infiltrate the farmers' agitation. We are in touch with farmers' leaders. No one will be allowed to vitiate the law and order in the state," said ADG Kumar In Lucknow, Leader of Opposition Ram Govind Chowdhury of Samajwadi Party was kept in "house arrest" and was later arrested, the Samajwadi party said in its official statement, adding police also resorted to lathi-charge against party workers at many places in the state.
Prominent among those arrested include party MLCs Anand Bhadauria in Sitapur, Rajpal Kashyap in Hardoi, Sunil Singh Sajan in Unnao and Ram Briksh Yadav in Prayagraj, the statement added.
SP MLC Rajpal Kashyap told PTI from Sandila in Hardoi district that he has been arrested and many other party leaders have been put under house arrest for siding with farmers.
"Samajwadi Party supports farmers' demands. Its sympathy lies with farmers. The 'kisan yatra' was started by the SP on December 7. The party workers are holding dharnas at all district headquarters in the state today. I have been arrested in Sandila and many party leaders are under house arrest," Kashyap.
In Gorakhpur too, police detained several SP leaders and workers including district president proceeding to participate in a sit-in at Nagar Nigam office campus.
Police began detaining SP workers since morning and arrested party's Gorakhpur district president Ram Nagina Sahni and former president Ziaul Islam when he was undertaking morning exercise in a school campus.
Some SP workers were arrested near the Townhall crossing and some were arrested from Zila Parishad road.
"The police and government are snatching our constitutional right to demonstrate peacefully. They are registering fake cases against us and not letting us protest," Sahni said.
Gorakhpur's Senior Superintendent of Police Jogendra Kumar justified arrests on grounds of Covid-19 restrictions.
"Section 144 is already imposed in the district. It is not safe to gather at a place without social distancing during a pandemic. They should have first take taken permission for holding demonstrations from the district magistrate," SSP Kumar said.
Senior Samajwadi Party Peader and former UP minister Arvind Singh Gope told PTI from Barabanki that houses of all local SP leaders have been turned into police fortresses.
"When we wanted to move out, we were not allowed," Gope said.
In a democracy, when people hit roads, dictators have to flee, he added, exuding confidence that protesting farmers would bring his party back to power in 2022 UP assembly elections and throw out the dictatorial regime".
In Kanpur, hundreds of Samajwadi Party workers sat on a dharna on Bada Chauraha in support of farmers' agitation.
"We were heading to the district collectorate to submit a memorandum addressed to the President on farmers' issue when we were stopped by a large police posse at Bada Chauraha," said party's city president, Dr Imran.
On being stopped, party leaders, including MLAs Amitabh Bajpayee and Irfan Solanki, decided to sit on dharna at Bada Chauraha, he added.
Kanpur's City Magistrate Himanshu Gupta said the protestors were stopped at Bada Chauraha where they sat on dharna.
Samajwadi Party workers from Ballia claimed their party leaders along with those of the Congress and other opposition parties were kept under house arrest.
In Muzaffarnagar too, several SP and RLD leaders were taken into custody ahead of their proposed protest in support of farmers.
Reports of SP workers protests came in from Bahraich and Siddhartha Nagar also.
Samajwadi Partry leader Amit Yadav told PTI from Mahoba that at least 30 party workers were taken into custody by the police.
Hamirpur's Additional Superintendent of Police Santosh Kumar Singh said 48 Samajwadi Party workers were detained in the district.
Former Union minister and in-charge of Uttar Pradesh BJP Radha Mohan Singh on Monday claimed the SP, Congress and BSP were creating "confusion" among farmers and misleading them on the new agri laws.
Singh, who is the BJP national vice president, said the new laws would benefit farmers and help them double their income by removing brokers and middlemen.
"The SP, Congress and BSP are trying to create confusion among farmers on new farm laws but they will not succeed. The farmers will not come under their influence," Singh said while addressing a 'kisan sammelan' (farmers' meeting) in Basti and Ayodhya.
Singh said the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Congress "never thought of farmers" when they were in power.
"Now, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken a decision in the interest of farmers, they are doing vote bank politics and vitiating the atmosphere," he said.
To make people aware about the new farm laws, the ruling BJP is organising 'kisan sammelans' at various places in Uttar Pradesh starting from Monday.
These meetings will be held till December 18.
Uttar Pradesh BJP general secretary Govind Narayan Shukla said state party chief Swatantra Dev Singh and deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya will on Tuesday address separate farmers' meeting in Gonda and Varanasi respectively.