A Samajwadi Party worker, along with two of his relatives, was booked after he hired two bouncers purportedly to prevent customers from getting aggressive during arguments about tomato prices at a vegetable vendor’s shop, reported The Indian Express.
The worker has been identified as Ajay Fauji. The vegetable vendor and Fauji’s uncle, Raj Narayan Yadav, and his son Vikas Yadav have been arrested. Fauji is absconding, reported the Hindustan Times.
The prices of tomatoes have soared across the country since the end of last month. Tomatoes cost Rs 110 per kg in Varanasi as of Monday, as compared to Rs 57 per kg on June 27, around the time the prices started soaring.
On Monday, the vegetable vendor told the police that Fauji bought tomatoes worth Rs 500 from another place, sat at his shop and started selling the vegetable as a mark of protest. The video shared on social media showed two bouncers standing in front of the shop.
The shop had several placards, one of which highlighted the rising prices in the country in the last nine years, in an apparent reference to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s rule in the country since 2014.
Ashwani Pandey, the in-charge of the Lanka police station, said that the protest was carried out in a planned manner.
“He [Fauji] raised slogans against the government following which tension broke out in the locality,” Pandey told The Indian Express.
The first information report against Fauji, Raj Narayan Yadav, Vikas Yadav and two unidentified persons have been filed under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between groups), 295A (deliberate act to outrage religious feelings by insulting a religion) and 505(2) (statements promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes) of the Indian Penal Code.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav demanded the immediate release of the vegetable vendor.
“How is it appropriate to make a vegetable seller who drew attention to price rise sit in a police station?” he asked. “On account of this news, all vegetable vendors across the state are getting angry. The vegetable seller should be released immediately.”