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Amethi tense after power protests; Cong blames BSP
Published on 15 Jul. 2009 12:15 AM IST
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Uttar Pradesh's Amethi town, the parliamentary constituency of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, remained tense Tuesday following violent protests by people against erratic power supply, officials said. The Congress held the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) responsible for the problem. Protests against poor power supply turned violent Monday night, when a group of angry residents threw stones at police, injuring 10 policemen. They also barged into the Kotwali police station and tried to set it on fire. The security personnel responded with tear gas and baton charge to disperse the mob. "We have registered a case against 30 people for indulging in violence during the protests that continued till late night," Superintendent of Police R.K. Chaturvedi told reporters Tuesday. Amethi is part of Sultanpur district, about 150 km from state capital Lucknow. The Amethi Vyapar Mandal, a traders lobby, observed a "black day" Tuesday protesting the alleged police atrocities and shut their business establishments. "At present, we have managed to arrest only seven-eight people. Raids are being carried out in parts of Sultanpur to arrest others who had resorted to vandalism and violence," he added. Residents, meanwhile, alleged that on the pretext of carrying out searches, police ill-treated women and misbehaved with them. But the district police chief refuted the charges. "It's totally baseless. Those women who indulged in violence must be levelling such charges against our officials," said Chaturvedi. Additional security personnel have been deployed in Amethi and its surrounding areas in the wake of the protests. Police said the situation was tense but under control. According to residents, Amethi gets just about 10 hours of power supply every day. The Congress Tuesday said the BSP was not paying attention to the woes of Amethi residents as it was Rahul Gandhi's constituency. The party also criticised the police for using force to disperse the protesters. "As Amethi constituency is represented by Rahulji, the state government is adopting a step-motherly attitude towards Amethi? As a result, it is reeling under a power crisis," said state Congress spokesperson Akhilesh Pratap Singh. "The way police baton-charged people in Amethi cannot be justified," he added. Demanding action against police and district authorities, the Congress has sought the governor's intervention. "Our foremost demand is that those arrested for carrying out protests against the poor power supply should be released," said Singh. Senior state Congress leader, Pramod Tiwari, said Rahul Gandhi has directed senior party leaders to visit Amethi. The ever deteriorating power crisis of the state will also be raised by the Congress in the state assembly session that beings July 21, he said. "If the condition does not improve, our workers will take on to the streets across the state to protest against the state government," he warned. The Congress will also be submitting a memorandum to the Central Finance Commission Wednesday. "The largest and most populous state of the country lags behind at every front - be it education, health, electricity, irrigation, flood etc. We would be requesting the commission to monitor the usage of money sanctioned to the government that is being used in building parks and monuments instead of development works," Tiwari said.

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