Chennai, Sept 08, 2018 : Yogendra Yadav, psephologist-turned-politician, was arrested in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruvannamalai district today while on his way to meet farmers protesting against a proposed Rs. 10,000 crore eight-lane Salem-Chennai expressway. In tweets, Mr Yadav, 55, alleged that the police stopped him from meeting farmers, accusing the cops of manhandling. "My crime: Wanting to meet farmers in their home.
"TN police has detained me and team in Chengam PS, Thiru Annamalai district. We came on the invitation of Movement Against 8 Lane Way. We were prevented from going to meet farmers, phones snatched, manhandled and pushed into police van. First hand experience of police state in TN! (sic)" tweeted Mr Yadav, who founded Swaraj India in 2015 after he was evicted from the Aam Aadmi Party for taking on Arvind Kejriwal.
The police has denied the allegations, saying the activist had not sought permission before meeting the farmers. Cops contend that Mr Yadav and his team would have needed police protection as the situation could have turned volatile given the sensitivity of the situation.
In more tweets, Yogendra Yadav, who launched the Jai Kisan Andolan - a campaign for farmers’ rights - last year, also alleged that he was arrested minutes after he spoke to a senior district official about complaints of forced acquisition of land for the expressway and police excesses.
The expressway has been facing opposition from a section of locals including farmers over fear of losing their land, as well as environmentalists who are opposed to felling of trees for the project.
In June, actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan slammed the Tamil Nadu government for arresting people protesting against the eight-lane expressway. "To treat anyone talking about environment as a crime is not acceptable. This concern should be there among all," Mr Haasan told reporters.
The police has been accused of indiscriminate and arbitrary arrests of locals and activists who are protesting against the acquisition of thousands of acres of agricultural land.