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|February 23, 1998||
BJP bandh stirs up trouble in UP towns
Curfew has been imposed in parts of the greater Gorakhpur city in Uttar Pradesh, following violence in the Ratei area during the Bharatiya Janata Party-initiated bandh on Monday.
The police said curfew has been imposed in Kotawali, Rajghat, Gorakhnath and Tiwaripur areas of the city. The situation had become tense on the issue of closing down shops in Kotwali's Ratei area and several other places.
The bandh was in protest against the sacking of the Kalyan Singh government.
The situation is now stated to be under control.
Earlier, the BJP supporters had taken out a procession and started forcing businessmen to close their shops in Loha Mandi, Kirana Mandi and Reti road areas. A few shop owners objected to the closure leading to a fracas and pelting of stones by both sides.
BJP Lok Sabha candidate Yogi Adityanath sustained minor injuries in the skirmish. He claimed his security guards fired a few rounds in the air to disperse a mob in Reti road.
Addressing his supporters at Reti chowk, Adityanath alleged that the police did nothing to stop the people from stoning his vehicle.
Former Jail Minister Shiv Pratap Shukla and Gorakhpur mayor Rajendra Sharma also addressed the meeting and demanded strict action against the guilty.
Meanwhile, the state BJP unit warned the central government of 'serious consequences' if anything untoward happens to senior party leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee. (Vajpayee, who was on a fast-unto-death in Delhi to protest UP Governor Romesh Bhandari's 'unconstitutional conduct', however, has called off his strike.)
In Lucknow, senior BJP leaders who were sitting on dharna at the GPO park said the entire country was concerned about Vajpayee's health -- if anything happened to him, it could trigger off a serious chain reaction among the people.
The leaders included former chief minister Kalyan Singh, state BJP president Rajnath Singh, former ministers Kalraj Misra and Lalji Tandon. They said the party would continue its agitation till Bhandari was removed.
A report from Varanasi said shops in the main markets of the city remained closed. However schools, government offices, banks, post offices and petrol pumps functioned normally. Traffic was also plying as usual.
At a few places, BJP workers were seen moving in groups raising slogans and requesting shopkeepers to down shutters. In Bhojubir area, police used force to disperse BJP workers who were trying to burn Bhandari's effigy.
In Delhi, meanwhile, hundreds of workers including BJP state chief Kedar Nath Sahani and party Rajya Sabha chief whip V K Malhotra, courted arrest when they were prevented by the police from taking a rally to the prime minister's residence.
. Police used teargas and water cannons near the Delhi BJP office when the workers broke through police barriers. However, no one was injured.
In a memorandum addressed to the prime minister, they demanded Bhandari's recall for 'colluding' with anti-BJP forces to remove the state government.
Shops and other commercial establishments remained closed in many areas of the capital. More than 250 traders associations participated in the bandh, according to the Forum of Delhi Trade Associations.
Forum secretary Praveen Khandelwal said the UP developments had 'greatly disturbed' business activities all over the country. He urged President K R Narayanan to intervene in the matter.
In Hyderabad, hundreds of BJP volunteers took out a massive rally. BJP state unit president B Dattatreya, party leader in the state assembly Vidyasagar Rao, MLAs B Bal Reddy and Ramaswamy and filmstar Kota Srinivas Rao, Naresh and Sai Krishna were among the participants.
Later, a delegation presented a memorandum to Andhra Pradesh governor C Rangarajan condemning Bhandari's 'undemocratic' action.
Similar rallies were organised in all district headquarters in the state.
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