President of Swaraj India Party Yogendra Yadav was arrested by the Tamil Nadu Police on Saturday when he was on his way to meet farmers protesting against the land acquisition by the state government for an 8-lane highway project.
He said his team consisting of Lingraj, Dilip Singh and Balakrishnan were planning to conduct a fact-finding mission on the farmers’ pleas and also wanted to check on reported ‘police excesses.
After their first meeting in Athipadi village, the team was intercepted by police when they were going to Nambiyangal in Tiruvannamalai.
Yadav claimed that he was manhandled by the police as he came to help his colleague, who was being dragged by police while recording the incident.
After detaining Yadav, police also snatched his phone. He said police didn’t give any explanation for their actions.
In the afternoon, Yadav was given a written order that prohibited him from travelling to any villages under section 30(2) of the Police Act. Yadav objected to it, saying that the relevant section does not apply in his case as it pertains to holding public rallies and processions.
Yadav was released briefly in the afternoon but police again detained him while he was on his way to the next village and was told that police have information that he was going to hold a public rally and protest.
Yadav told the police that he had the constitutional right to hold meetings with the farmers in their homes but police refused to agree with him and arrested him subsequently.
The Rs 10,000 crore eight-lane expressway connecting Salem and Chennai is being opposed by a section of farmers and landowners who do not want to part with their land.
The project, a central government initiative being implemented by the Tamil Nadu government, aims to bring down the travel time between Salem and Chennai but that claim been ridiculed by Environmentalists