Yogi Ji, section 144 on the highway for Rahul Gandhi but not for others?

Was it necessary to stop Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi from visiting Hathras? They were on their way to call on the family of the young woman who died days after complaining of gang-rape

Yogi Ji, section 144 on the highway for Rahul Gandhi but not for others?

Zafar Agha

The Government of Yogi Adityanath did two curious things on Thursday. The UP Police first made a spectacle of themselves by stopping the Gandhis from proceeding to Hathras, claiming that there was section 144 in force on the highway ! When Rahul Gandhi offered to walk, if necessary alone, to Hathras, he and Priyanka Gandhi were arrested and taken into custody. The other curious thing they did was to claim that the woman had not been raped and that political elements were fomenting trouble by claiming that she was raped. The Forensic Report apparently did not find any semen in the woman’s private parts.

The claim is farcical because the woman was attacked on September 14 and found bleeding and naked in a field. She was in no state to speak because her spinal cord was broken, she was paralysed and her tongue had a gash. It was only a week later that the police recorded her statement and when she confirmed that she was gangraped. So, when was she examined?

Stopping the media and political workers from visiting Hathras is clearly an afterthought. The UP Government was embarrassed by live footage which showed the police cremating the body of the women with nobody from her family present. Newswomen present on the spot reported the cremation live. So, the UP administration now is trying to put a blanket around the village in Hathras so that more embarrassing details do not tumble out.

Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi, if video footage is any indication, were also manhandled by the police in Greater NOIDA. Unconfirmed reports suggested that police used batons to stop the Congress MP. Heavens would clearly have not fallen if he had been allowed to meet the family and offer his condolences. Or have Members of Parliament and opposition leaders forfeited even that privilege?

There were more policemen on the highway to stop Rahul Gandhi than Congress workers accompanying him. And the police were clearly acting under instructions. But was it legal to stop him from walking? Surely he was not violating prohibitory orders which prohibit an assembly of more than five people. There are well settled rules and guidelines for imposing the prohibitory order and the police cannot decide arbitrarily that section 144 is in force on the highway for some people and not for others.

Could it be the desperation of a chief minister who has failed on all fronts? UP under Yogi is a mess. Murders, rapes and all sorts of crimes have gone up sharply. The pandemic has not just ruined the state economy but it is becoming a major threat to lives and livelihood of the people. New farm laws have angered a vast chunk of the rural population. Upper caste Brahmin constituency too is said be sulking because of the chief minister’s soft spot for his own caste-men and the long rope he has allowed them.

Yogi is getting unpopular by the day. He is, therefore, scared of any political challenge to his authority. Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav seem to have been silenced by the powers that be. Only Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi have been relentless in speaking out against Yogi’s misdeeds. But Yogi must not forget that the Gandhis are not the kind to be intimidated or fall in line.

The Janata Party government led by Morarji Desi tried to cow down Indira Gandhi in 1978 and paid a heavy price, losing power in less than three years. Yogi too may learn his lesson the hard way.

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Published: 01 Oct 2020, 9:19 PM