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Varun surrenders amid high drama

Sandeep Joshi

Remanded to custody in Pilibhit district jail

— Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

BJP candidate from Pilibhit Varun Gandhi being taken into judicial custody after he surrendered at the Pilibhit district court in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday.

PILIBHIT: Amid high voltage drama in this highly polarised town of Western Uttar Pradesh, Varun Gandhi was on Saturday remanded to judicial custody after he surrendered before a local court for cases related to his alleged hate speeches in the region. Mr. Varun Gandhi moved his bail application, which will be taken up on Monday. Till then he will have to cool his heels at the Pilibhit district jail.

He left the capital in the early hours of Saturday after the anticipatory bail granted by the Delhi High Court expired on Friday midnight and he withdrew the extension plea. He reached Pilibhit, from where he is making his debut in electoral politics as Bharatiya Janata Party’s Lok Sabha candidate, in the morning to a tumultuous reception.

Pilibhit has been a stronghold of his mother Maneka Gandhi, who is now contesting on BJP ticket from neighbouring Aonla constituency.

Wearing a red-coloured ‘kurta’ and a ‘tilak’ on his forehead, Mr. Varun Gandhi reached the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Vipin Kumar even as a large number of supporters waiting outside the crowded court chanted slogans and waved saffron flags, in violation of all prohibitory orders.

Though no BJP flags were visible, senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Kalraj Mishra and some party MLAs from the region were present, along with a battery of lawyers.

A composed-looking Varun first presented his surrender application before the CJM who accepted it. He was subsequently placed under judicial custody. His lawyers then immediately filed a bail application hearing of which was deferred till Monday, as the prosecution sought time and the CJM asked for all case diary details. Mr. Gandhi has been charged with inciting communal passions, hurting the sentiments of other communities, violating the model code of conduct and prohibitory orders, and assault.

While coming out of the courtroom, he alleged that a conspiracy had been hatched by his opponents to scuttle his political career. As Mr. Gandhi appeared from the courtroom, his supporters blocked the way and jostled with police and security personnel. To control the situation, police had to resort to mild lathi-charge, first in the city premises and later outside the district jail, before taking Mr. Gandhi inside the jail premises.

However, clashes between the police and Varun supporters outside the jail premises continued for hours, forcing police to call for reinforcements. Elsewhere in the city and rural Pilibhit, the situation remained tense, but calm.

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