Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee President Ajay Kumar Lallu was detained on Tuesday for staging a protest, demanding that the buses offered by his party to take migrant workers home be allowed to reach Noida and Ghaziabad, the Hindustan Times reported.
The Adityanath-led government and the Congress have been locked in an escalating fight over transportation arrangements for stranded migrant workers, beginning with party leader Priyanka Gandhi’s Vadra’s offer to provide 1,000 buses to the state government.
Lallu and several other Congress leaders staged a protest on the Bharatpur- Agra highway on Tuesday, after the Uttar Pradesh government alleged that the list of buses provided by the Congress contained registration numbers of autorickshaws and cars, PTI reported.
A video shared by Congress leader Nadeem Javed showed four policemen carrying Lallu to their car. “State Congress President Ajay Lallu was arrested by the police in an undemocratic manner,” he wrote on Twitter along with the video. “This is a shameful incident. Lallu and other leaders were waiting with the buses for migrant workers.”
Agra’s Senior Superintendent of Police confirmed to the Hindustan Times that Lallu and two other party leaders – Pradeep Mathur and Vivek Bansal – were detained.
The UP government and Congress have sparred over details ever since Vadra’s offer. A day after accepting the Congress’s offer of 1,000 buses, the UP government on Tuesday tweaked its instructions and asked the party to send 500 buses at each of the state’s border with Delhi in Noida and Ghaziabad.
In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Vadra lashed out at the UP government for creating hurdles in her party’s efforts to help migrant workers. “When we got a chance to set aside politics to help desperate migrants, they [the UP government] created all possible hurdles,” she wrote. “If you wish, put up BJP banners on the buses, but don’t reject our offer because three days have been wasted over politics and and migrants have died walking on roads.”
The Centre has been criticised by the Opposition for the plight of migrant workers, who continue to make desperate journeys home on foot or on any mode of transport they can find amid the nationwide coronavirus lockdown. Several migrant workers have been killed in accidents on their way.
After massive backlash, the Centre on Tuesday asked the states and Union Territories to proactively coordinate on the operation of more trains to take migrant workers back to their hometowns, and make arrangements for food and shelter. The instructions came after over 50 days into the lockdown.