Police took Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav into custody on Monday after party workers led by him broke through a security cordon to sit on a dharna in the heart of Lucknow to oppose the new farm bills.
A case was later registered at Gautam Palli police station against Yadav and other SP workers, Lucknow Police Commissioner D K Thakur said. The Samajwadi Party leader was released in the evening.
The case was registered for breach of peace and under the Epidemic Diseases Act in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yadav was detained for violating Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which prevents assembly of five or more people at one spot.
With UP police laying a virtual siege to the area around the Samajwadi Party headquarters in Lucknow, a defiant Yadav sat on a dharna on the road for some time joined by several party leaders, before he was detained by the UP police and bundled into a police van to remove him from the spot.
"If the new farm laws are intended to help the farmers, then why are they on the war path? Why is the government so adamant? If farmers don't want the new laws, the government should take these back," he told reporters at the protest site.
TV footage showed police using 'lathis' to push back SP workers.
While being whisked away to Eco Garden in the state capital by the police, Yadav said, "This is a dictatorial approach of the BJP. It has blatantly violated the Constitution. There is no coronavirus for the BJP, it is only for the opposition.
"The BJP can hold meetings and election campaigns anywhere, and for it there will be no coronavirus threat. The government wants to kill democracy on the pretext of coronavirus," he said.
The government is insulting every SP worker, he said, adding that the non-confidence towards the government is increasing and it cannot be saved.
The SP chief was scheduled to go to Kannauj to lead farmers protest there after the party gave a call for a statewide 'kisan yatra' against the farm laws on Monday, but he was not allowed to leave his residence and proceed further.
Yadav said the government should bring laws which can ensure doubling of farmers income, 'but the government's intention is not clear'.
Soon after his detention, the SP MP wrote to the Lok Sabha Speaker complaining that he was being stopped from going to the programme (in Kannauj) 'at the behest of the UP government'.
"I am a Lok Sabha MP and national president of the Samajwadi Party. Along with this, I have discharged the constitutional responsibility of an ex-chief minister.
"To extend support to farmers, my programme was to be held in Kannauj on December 7, and it was declared earlier," he said.
"On the directions of the Uttar Pradesh government, I was stopped from going to the programme. A heavy police force was deployed at my residence on the Vikramaditya Marg.
"The police took my vehicles in its custody. This undemocratic behaviour is a violation of my rights. This amounts to breach of privileges of an MP," Yadav said.
He urged the Lok Sabha speaker to 'immediately intervene' so that his rights to carry out democratic activities can be restored.
Earlier on Monday, the Uttar Pradesh Police sealed a road near the Samajwadi Party office here and placed barricades on it ahead of Akhilesh Yadav's visit to Kannauj for a 'Kisan Yatra'.
Station House Officer (SHO), Gautampalli, Chandrashekhar Singh said, "Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav was to visit Kannauj for a programme, but the Kannauj district magistrate did not give permission for it. Hence, the portion of the Vikramaditya Marg leading to the SP office has been sealed."
Yadav, a former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, was slated to travel to Kannauj, around 125 km from the Uttar Pradesh capital, for a tractor rally as part of the 'Kisan Yatra' in support of farmers protesting against the Centre's new agri laws and the 'Bharat bandh' called by them on Tuesday. The 13-km yatra was planned from Thathia to Tirwa.
Reports of SP workers staging protests also came from Baghpat, Mirzapur, Varanasi, Bhadohi, Prayagraj and Sonbhadra among other districts of the state.
SP MLC Rajpal Kashyap told PTI that party workers staged protests in each and every assembly constituency of the state.
In a tweet, the SP said, 'The BJP government is afraid of the 'Kisan Yatras', which are being held against the injustice done to farmers and the anti-farmer laws.
'Hence, to stop the yatras, it has unleashed atrocities on 'samajwadis'. The police are calling SP workers to police stations and also going to their houses to stop them.'
'This is highly condemnable. Farmers and youths will give an answer to the government,' it said.
In Ghaziabad, over a hundred SP workers were detained during a protest over the farm laws.
They were released in the evening after they submitted written assurance that they will maintain peace, Senior Superintendent of Police Kalanidhi Naithani said.