LUCKNOW/AGRA: Congress and Bhim Army workers held demonstrations in Lucknow and Hathras over the gang-rape of a 19-year-old Dalit woman a fortnight ago, and demanded stern punishment for the culprits.
The woman died in a Delhi hospital on Tuesday and was cremated in Uttar Pradesh's Hathras in the early hours of Wednesday, with her family members alleging the local police forced them to conduct her last rites in the dead of the night.
The Congress' Uttar Pradesh unit president Ajay Kumar Lallu led protesters to the chief minister's residence but were stopped at the VVIP guest house, the party's media convenor Lalan Kumar said.
He claimed a number Congress workers were injured as police used batons to stop them from proceeding towards the chief minister's residence.
WATCH | Hathras gang-rape victim cremated in dead of night; kin allege police did it forcibly
"Lallu was bodily stopped by policemen who were deployed in large numbers and he along with others were held and taken to Eco Garden," Kumar said.
Kumar said Congress workers, led by the party's Dalit wing district unit chief Kuldeep, staged a sit-in in Hathras demanding justice for the gang-rape victim.
In Aligarh district, Bhim Army workers staged a protest in Hathras and Tappal towns alleging that the outfit's chief Chandrasekhar Azaad has been arrested.
Earlier in the day, functionaries of the Azad Samaj Party, which was launched by the Bhim Army chief in March this year, claimed that Azad and the Bhim Army's Delhi unit head Himanshu Balmiki went missing after 10 pm on Tuesday while they were on their way to Hathras accompanying the family of the gang-rape victim.
"There is no clue about the location of Azad and Balmiki after they reached Jewar toll plaza to get on the lane to Tappal, Aligarh," Azad Samaj Party core committee member Ravindra Bhati said.
Local Bhim Army leaders alleged that Azad was picked up at Tappal in Aligarh district while on his way to Hathras and taken away to an unknown location.
There was however no official confirmation of Azad's arrest despite efforts to contact senior police officers.
On Tuesday evening, protests had broken out in several places in Aligarh and Hathras following reports of the death of the gang-rape victim.Hundreds of protestors took out a procession in Hathras demanding death penalty for the culprits.