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U.P. government invokes NSA against Varun Gandhi

Atiq Khan

Cases filed against BJP candidate and his supporters

— Photo: V. Sudershan

BALANCING ACT: Senior BJP leader L.K. Advani, flanked by Arun Jaitley (left) and Ravi Shankar Prasad, addresses a media conference at the party headquarters, in New Delhi on Sunday.

LUCKNOW: The Uttar Pradesh government on Sunday invoked the provisions of the National Security Act against Bharatiya Janata Party candidate from Pilibhit, Varun Gandhi, who is in the eye of the storm for allegedly making hate speeches in his constituency. The government’s decision was announced by Director-General of Police Vikram Singh and Principal Secretary, Home, Kunwar Fateh Bahadur at a late night press conference here.

The decision to charge Mr. Gandhi under the NSA comes on the eve of his bail plea coming up for hearing in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Pilibhit. The State police chief said Mr. Gandhi was charged with inciting communal tension through his speeches at election rallies held in Pilibhit district on March 7 and 9. Another charge levelled against Mr. Gandhi was that he incited his supporters to resort to violence outside the CJM court which remanded him to judicial custody on Saturday.

The NSA was invoked against Mr. Gandhi after approval from the District Magistrate of Pilibhit. Whether the charges against him will hold will be decided by an advisory board within six weeks.

Rumours on the possibility of the BJP candidate being charged under the NSA had been doing the rounds since Saturday, but senior police officials were tight-lipped. However, the manner in which four FIRs were lodged against Mr. Gandhi and his supporters under certain non-bailable sections of the Indian Penal Code clearly indicated that the NSA was not very far off.

While a case of attempt to murder under Section 307 of the IPC was slapped on Mr. Gandhi and 13 others by the Pilibhit police administration, his supporters were charged with causing damage to government property, including official residences, in violent incidents that rocked the town on Saturday.

Kalraj Mishra, senior BJP leader who is in charge of the party’s affairs in Uttar Pradesh, was charged with violating prohibitory orders under Section 144.

Four FIRs were lodged by the Pilibhit jail and police administration in the aftermath of the violence. Around 65 people were injured in the melee. Two cases were filed by the Pilibhit district jail authorities, while two others were lodged by the police.

Vendetta politics: BJP

PTI reports from New Delhi:

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javedkar described the Maywati government’s action as “the worst kind of vendetta politics” and asserted that Mr. Gandhi was still the party candidate from Pilibhit.

The party’s stand got the support of a Constitutional expert when Subash Kashyap said the action appeared to be “less legal than political” and that he could not be “prevented” from contesting.

Trapped: Congress

Congress leader Kapil Sibal said Mr. Gandhi had become trapped in a “political arrangement” between the BJP and the BSP government in U.P. to “polarise” votes on communal lines.

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