Pilibhit (Uttar Pradesh) : The police Sunday filed a case against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Varun Gandhi and slapped on him several charges, including an attempt to murder, following the violence when he was arrested here for reported hate speeches Saturday. His mother, former central minister Maneka Gandhi described the charges as frivolous.
The cases were filed against Gandhi, senior BJP leader Kalraj Mishra and former legislator B.K. Gupta in the Kotwali police station of Pilibhit, around 350 km from Lucknow.
“While Varun Gandhi has been booked under Section 144 (unlawful assembly), Mishra and Gupta have been booked under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC),” Superintendent of Police Prakash D. told reporters.
What came as a shock to the BJP was that Gandhi was also charged for attempt to murder along with 13 of his supporters.
“Besides Section 144, Gandhi and his 13 supporters have been booked under sections 307 (attempt to murder), 331 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt to extort confusion), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty) of the Indian Penal Code, Section 7 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act and also for destroying public property and rioting,” Pilibhit District Magistrate Ajay Chauhan told reporters.
These sections are part of the same first information report (FIR) registered against Gandhi, he said.
District authorities said the BJP leaders had provoked party workers to indulge in violence.
The move provoked strong reaction from Maneka Gandhi, sitting MP from Pilibhit, as she visited her son in the Pilibhit district jail on the second consecutive day.
“It is a massive political conspiracy against him,” she told mediapersons before entering the jail to meet Varun Gandhi, whom BJP has named as candidate for the Pilibhit seat.
Slapping the young leader with the attempt-to-murder charge showed the administration was unfair, as how can a person, who came here to court arrest, attempt to kill any one, Maneka Gandhi asked.
“I am not disturbed because I am his mother, but I stand along all the youths who gathered here in his support. The party is with Varun and a large number of legislators and MPs are also visiting him in the jail to extend their support,” she added.
She, however, declined to comment on the statements made by Varun Gandhi’s cousins and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s children Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra on this episode.
Pilibhit District Magistrate Chauhan, in a report sent to the Uttar Pradesh government Sunday, said the three leaders – Varun Gandhi, Mishra and Gupta – “provoked the workers who then took the law in their hands on their insistence”, a home department source told IANS.
The police action came in retaliation only to control the agitating mob, the report added.
A Pilibhit court Saturday sent Gandhi to jail until Monday for allegedly making hate speeches amid clashes between party workers and the police.
The court ruling came shortly after Varun Gandhi said he was “ready to go to jail” over his reported anti-Muslim speeches that he denies having made.
Hundreds of BJP supporters followed the police vehicle in which he was driven away from the court. A few of them were seen clinging to the vehicle and climbing onto its bonnet, making it difficult for the policemen to drive.
The police then opened fire after lobbing teargas shells and resorting to cane-charge, injuring three people.
Following media reports of his speeches, the Election Commission came down heavily on Varun and suggested that he should not be fielded as a candidate in the Lok Sabha elections. The BJP has refused to comply and questioned the poll panel’s jurisdiction to suggest so.
Gandhi Friday decided to go to Pilibhit to be arrested Sunday after the Delhi High Court refused to extend his anticipatory bail and he withdrew his bail plea from the Supreme Court.
Due to security reasons, Gandhi has been kept in a separate cell but except homemade food no additional facilities are being provided to him, jail superintendent Mukesh Arora told IANS Sunday.