Agra: Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu was arrested here after he sat on a dharna for grant of permission to the buses arranged by the party to enter the state, police said on Wednesday.
Senior party leaders Pradeep Mathur, Vivek Bansal and Manoj Dixit were also arrested, they said.
“A case has been registered against Ajay Kumar Lallu under various sections of the IPC and the Epidemic Act at the Fatehpur Sikri police station. Lallu was arrested on Tuesday evening, and he along with other Congress leaders were put in the Police Lines,” Senior Superintendent of Police, Agra, Babloo Kumar said.
On Tuesday, Lallu and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s secretary were booked by the police after the state government said a list of 1,000 buses submitted by the party to ferry migrant workers contained registration numbers of auto rickshaws, cars and trucks.
Also, records showed that many of the buses in the list did not have valid fitness certificates or insurance papers, the BJP government said, accusing the opposition party of playing with the lives of workers.
The FIR against Lallu and Sandeep Singh, personal secretary to Gandhi, capped a day during which the party traded charges with the Yogi Adityanath government and held a protest at the Rajasthan-UP border.
The FIR charged Lallu, Singh and “others” under Indian Penal Code sections related to cheating and forging documents.
The Congress rejected the UP government claim on its list containing the numbers of other vehicles, challenging it to conduct a physical verification of the buses.
Later, a state government spokesman said about 100 vehicles on the Congress list were not buses.
Of the buses, 297 lacked either a fitness certificate or valid insurance papers. As the war of words escalated, UP Congress chief Lallu and other party workers reached the Agra border, where they argued with policemen and staged a dharna.
Lallu was seen being carried away from the protest site to a car, with four policemen holding his arms and legs. A UP Congress spokesperson said he was taken to a police station in Agra.
According to the Congress, most of its buses are massed at the Rajasthan-Uttar Pradesh border, awaiting permission to cross over into the state’s Agra district.
In a tweet in the evening, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra urged that the state government should at least let the buses “found fit” by it to enter the state. She said there were 879 such buses.
“UP government has crossed the limit,” she said, accusing it of creating hurdles in an effort to help migrant workers stranded due to the coronavirus lockdown.
She said if the Yogi Adityanath government wishes the Congress can put BJP banners on the buses, but they should be allowed to run.