Yogendra Yadav, psephologist-turned-politician, was detained today in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruvannamalai district 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.
“TN police has detained me and team in Chengam PS, Thiru Annamalai district. We came on the invitation of Movement Against 8Lane 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!” tweeted Mr Yadav, who founded Swaraj India in 2015 after he was evicted from the Aam Aadmi Party for taking on Arvind Kejriwal.
The activist, 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 over the phone about complaints of forced acquisition of land for the expressway and police excesses.
“I had spoken to Mr Kandasamy, Collector, Thiru Annamalai about acquisition and complains of police excesses for 8 lane way. He completely denied any police interference. Within minutes of the phone call police detained us,” Mr Yadav tweeted.
Sources in the police say that Mr Yadav had not sought permission for any programme.
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.