Barpeta (Assam): Senior Assam Congress leaders who brought out a march demanding release of arrested Independent Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani were stopped and taken to a police station in Barpeta district before being released after some time on Tuesday.

District Superintendent of Police Amitabh Sinha said none was taken into custody and he will give the details later.

Congress MP Abdul Khaleque who was one of the leaders taken to Barpeta police station alleged that the BJP has no respect for democracy and “is all out to stifle freedom of speech which we cannot allow at any cost. We demand immediate release of Mevani”.

After a court in Kokrajhar district on Monday granted bail to Mevani, who is supported by the Congress, in a case over a tweet by him on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he was rearrested on charges of “assaulting and outraging” the modesty of a woman police officer on April 21. The new case was registered in a police station in Barpeta district.

Khaleq said that besides him, Congress MLAs Abdur Rahim Ahmed, Jakir Hussain Sikdar, Pradip Sarkar, Indian Youth Congress president Srinivas BV and other party leaders have taken out the procession here demanding immediate release of the Dalit leader and were marching to the Deputy Commissioner’s office when the police stopped them.

“We were forcefully put inside police vans and taken to Barpeta police station. After some time, we were released,” Khaleque, the Lok Sabha member from Barpeta, told PTI.

The released leaders then sat on a dharna demanding release of Mevani. A group of Congress workers was already demonstrating near the Deputy Commissioner’s office on the same demand.

Sikdar alleged that the BJP government wants to “destroy democracy and move towards autocracy. They have no regard for the fundamental rights of citizens and freedom of speech”.

He claimed that the Assam Police is being used by the BJP as a puppet to fulfil their “vested interests”.

Mevani was booked under IPC sections related to voluntarily causing hurt, assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his or her duty after a policewoman filed a complaint against him.

The alleged incident occurred when she was escorting the Dalit leader from Guwahati airport to Kokrajhar in a government vehicle on April 21, according to the FIR registered on the same day in Barpeta Road police station.

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