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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Varun challenges NSA in apex court

Pioneer News Service | New Delhi/Etah

Hours after he was shifted to Etah prison from Pilibhit in a ‘secret’ midnight operation, Varun Gandhi moved the Supreme Court on Wednesday challenging the imposition of National Security Act (NSA) against him.

Throughout the day, Varun remained in the news amid speculation he was shifted to Etah on intelligence reports that he faced threat from underworld don Chhota Shakeel in Pilibhit jail. The intelligence agencies had reportedly informed the State Government a week ago about an intercepted telephonic conversation between Pakistan-based Chhota Shakeel and his key shooter Rashid indicating a plot to kill the 29-year-old Gandhi, the day he came to surrender at a Pilibhit court.

However, the State Government refuted the reports and asserted he was transferred to high-security Etah jail only to ensure peaceful elections. “News reports appearing in a section of media on Wednesday are far from truth,” Director General of Police Vikram Singh told reporters in Lucknow.

Varun’s parliamentarian mother Maneka Gandhi, who met her son in Etah jail on Wednesday, alleged Congress and BSP were conspiring to get Varun killed, just to appease a particular set of voters and the people of the country were with Varun in this difficult hour. “Varun is not only my son, but that of the entire country,” Maneka told reporters.

At the same time, BJP chief Rajnath Singh asked senior leader M Venkaiah Naidu and State president Ramapati Ram Tripathi to call on Varun in jail in Etah on Thursday. Naidu would also head a team comprising Tripathi, election in-charge Kalraj Mishra and State organisational secretary Nagendra that would closely monitor the speeches of BJP candidates and see that they exercise restrain. “Naidu will report back to Rajnath on his meeting with Varun in Etah Jail,” BJP sources said.

Seeking quashing of the NSA provisions issued by District Magistrate Pilibhit on March 29 in his submission in the Supreme Court, Varun alleged the decision was politically motivated. He highlighted several technical defects in the order that rendered it illegal and unconstitutional, being an affront to his fundamental rights enshrined under Article 21 (right to life) and Article 19 (right to freedom of speech and expression).

Taking the State administration head on, Varun in his petition filed through advocate Sandeep Kapoor submitted that his detention was against the rulebook. According to him, before detaining a person under NSA, the detaining authority is required to be supplied with original documents and true copies, with a copy made available to the detainee. In his case, this rule was violated as typed copies were made available.

Material documents relating to the reasons of arrest too were not supplied to him, the petition alleged. Even with regard to the alleged fiery speeches that served the basis of slapping the serious charge under NSA, Varun stated that neither the original CDs nor its copies were placed before the detaining authority. Interestingly, it is based on the CDs the three FIRs against him were lodged.

Varun has also taken a dig at his political opponents suggesting the entire incident was stage-managed to sabotage his political debut. “The entire attempt is a combined effort of DM Pilibhit and UP Government to ensure that the petitioner is not able to contest and campaign for the general elections scheduled for next month.” On this ground, he urged the court to quash his illegal detention stating that the orders “will not only deprive the liberty of the petitioner but will also have effect of virtually prohibiting him from contesting and campaigning.”

The BJP said the UP and the UPA Governments should not pass the buck and ensure proper security for its candidate. “It should not be that someone else is casualty in the politics between the two Governments,” BJP spokesman Sidharth Nath Singh said in New Delhi.

BJP veterans, including LK Advani and Rajnath Singh, also rallied behind the party candidate from Pilibhit saying he had been framed. “The move to detain him (Varun) under NSA is purely due to vote bank politics in Uttar Pradesh ... And everybody knows who are behind it,” the NDA leader said in Orissa.

Reports from Etah said that after the early morning arrival of Varun, more than 1000 BJP supporters surrounded the city jail. The crowd grew unruly in the afternoon when Varun’s mother and BJP leader Maneka Gandhi arrived at the jail to visit her son.

Since there was permission to allow only three visitors for Varun, the jail staff had to forcibly prevent hundreds of supporters trying to break into the prison to meet their leader, causing a scuffle at the gate.

Flooded with different responses from State leaders, the BJP office-bearers are also meeting in New Delhi on Friday to take stock of the situation and decide the future course of action in Uttar Pradesh, which has turned volatile following Varun’s arrest.


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