Contradictory claims create confusion over Tikait's arrest

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Lucknow, Apr 2 (UNI) Even as the Uttar Pradesh government claimed to have arrested Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Mahendra Singh Tikait from his native village Sisauli this morning, Tikait has denied the claim, leading to confusion over the development.

Earlier in the morning, Inspector General of Police (IGP), Law and Order (UP) Bhanu Pratap Singh told UNI here, '' Tikait has been arrested from his son's residence in Sisauli as an FIR was lodged against him under the SC and ST Act.'' He said the arrested BKU leader was being taken to Bijnore where he would be presented in a local court.

However, Tikait claimed that he was not arrested and was likely to surrender at a local court in Bijnour this afternoon to prevent any bloodshed of the farmers, who are opposing the government action.

''My surrender would not be defeat of the farmers in the state,'' he added.

Meanwhile, confusion prevailed in the media over the arrest of the BKU leader.

According to reports from Muzaffarnagar, the farmer leaders were in support of Tikait's surrender.

Tikait, along with some of his supporters, is scheduled to arrive in Bijnore at around 1400 hrs, where the real picture is expected to emerge.

Sources also hinted that after two days of stand off, an agreement had been reached between the authorities and the BKU about the leader's possible surrender.

Tikait has been charged with using ''objectionable language'' against UP Chief Minister Mayawati at a rally in Bijnore on March 30 last.

Subsequently, an FIR was lodged against him but the attempts by the police to arrest him failed due to stiff resistance from the BKU workers, who indulged in violence.

Several policemen were injured during the three-day violence that erupted between the administration and the BKU members. Yesterday, the UP government deployed a team of senior officers to effect Takait's arrest. Rakesh and Surendra, two sons of the BKU chief, had already been arrested for inciting the mob against the police.

All major political parties, including the Samajwadi Party, had come out in support of the BKU leader and condemned the Mayawati government's action against him.

Last night the situation at Sisauli turned tense when the government rushed a large contingent of police after Tikait refused to surrender.

Tikait, however, had said, ''Mayawati is like my daughter...I am even ready to apologise for any wrong utterance, but the way police arrested my two sons hurted me a lot.'' He said people in Sisauli made all the preparations to prevent his arrest. The BKU supporters blocked all the entry points to Sisauli to prevent the police from entering the village.

ADG (Law and Order, STF) Brijlal had told UNI that almost 20 companies of PAC along with a strong contingent of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) were awaiting near the village of Tikait to get a go ahead signal from higher authorities to arrest Tikait.

The BKU has announced a grand Kisan Mahapanchayat on April 8.

State Principal Secretary (Home) J N Chamber had earlier said, ''Tikait is an accused and will not be spared.'' The rule of law would prevail at any cost and it was the responsibility of the administration to arrest a person against whom a case had been registered, he added.

UNI MB/SB JAS HS BD1353

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