Chennai: Swaraj Abhiyan chief Yogendra Yadav and four of his associates were detained and allegedly manhandled by police on Saturday in Tiruvannamalai district when they were on their way to meet protesting farmers against the proposed eight-lane expressway between Chennai and Salem.
In a series of tweets, the psephologist-turned-politician claimed besides being prevented from going to meet the farmers, his phone was snatched, he was manhandled and pushed into a police van.
“First hand experience of police state in Tamil Nadu,” said Yadav who was detained in Chengam in Tiruvannamalai district.
In a video posted in Twitter he said: “I am told that I am not allowed to visit farmers because there is a law and order problem. Because I am going to create unrest,” he said, adding that he had acquired prior permission from the District Magistrate for the visit.
He said he was detained by the police soon after he spoke to the District Collector and told him about the forcible acquisition of land for the road project.
According to the police, Yadav had not taken any permission to meet the farmers. Reacting to it Yadav said police permission was not needed to meet farmers at their own place.
He also wrote to Chengam Deputy Superintendent of Police K.S. Sundaramoorthy, stating that the order preventing him from meeting the farmers was “illegal” and that it was given to him nearly five hours after he was detained in a marriage hall.
The “arbitrary detention” was strongly condemned by DMK leader M.K. Stalin.
“The DMK strongly condemns the arbitrary detention of Yogendra Yadav who supported farmers affected by the Chennai-Salem Expressway project.
“The ‘intolerant’ AIADMK government will pay the price for denying people the democratic right to dissent and protest,” Stalin tweeted.
The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) condemned the police action and demanded release of Yadav and others.
“Preventing people from voicing their opinion and forcing them to give up their land and livelihood has become a pattern of governments, which are pushing a ‘development’ agenda which is uprooting people and is against their interests. It serves the interest of big corporates, big contractors, corrupt politicians and officials,” it said in a statement.
Actor-turned-politician Kamal Hassan in a tweet said the police action against Yadav is condemnable.
Yadav, along with trade union leader Dalip Singh; farmer leader from Odisha, Lingaraj; State Convener of Swaraj India, K. Balakrishnan; and Joint Convener for the movement against the road project, Arul Arumugam, was to meet the farmers who are opposed to the expressway and do not want to part with their land.