Ghaziabad, July 26 :
Around 500 Congress workers, including Uttar Pradesh in charge Madhusudan Mistry, state unit chief Nirmal Khatri, and actress Nagma, were detained here Saturday for violating prohibitory orders banning their entry into Kanth town of Moradabad. Police released them after about five hours.
The Congress leaders were detained at the UP Gate on the Delhi border in Ghaziabad.
Police said they detained the leaders after intelligence sources said the presence of Congress members in Kanth could disturb communal harmony in the area which is still sensitive after recent violence following the removal of a sound system at a temple.
Senior police and civil officials reached U.P. Gate to convince the Congress leaders not to proceed to Kanth, but as they were adamant to go ahead, police detained all of them and took them to the police lines in Ghaziabad, officials said.
“We were forced to detain them at about noon and later released them at 5 p.m. after they furnished personal bonds,” said Superintendent of Police (City) Shiv Hari Meena.
Congress leader and former state power minister Satish Sharma said: “As police failed to show them arrest warrants, the Congress workers staged a sit-in on the national highway 24.”
Traffic was disrupted on the highway for over an hour.
“Police are treating the Congress and BJP in the same manner. While the Congress wanted to carry out a peace march, the BJP wanted to disturb the communal harmony. So we had to protest at the UP Gate. Police are responsible for that,” Khatri told IANS.
Tension gripped Kanth area Saturday as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) refused to back out of its proposed protest against district officials over allegations of victimisation of its cadres.
Heavy security was deployed and all entry points leading to the area were barricaded. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 (banning unlawful assembly) were clamped, officials said.
The situation became tense after the Congress state unit announced a peace march. Police sealed all roads leading to Moradabad to prevent both the BJP and the Congress from carrying out their protests.
The situation in Kanth has been tense since early July when acting on complaints of the local legislator, police pulled down loudspeakers from a village temple. It was also alleged that police entered the temple with their shoes on.
This led to violent protests from the villagers, most of whom are Dalits.
The BJP soon joined the protests and accused the state government of appeasing a community and victimising others. Three BJP parliamentarians and a legislator were arrested.
Soon violence broke out and the Moradabad district magistrate lost an eye after being hit by a stone.