Protest against paper leak: AAP workers storm BJP office, over 70 arrested

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The political atmosphere heated up in Gandhinagar Monday as workers of the Gujarat Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), led by state president Gopal Italia, stormed Shree Kamalam, the state BJP headquarters here, over the recent paper leak controversy. Police resorted to lathicharge to disperse the protesters and nearly 70 to 80 AAP workers and leaders, including Italia, Isudan Gadhvi and Nikhil Savani, were arrested in the evening.

Leaders of both parties have claimed that their members were attacked by the workers of the opposite party.

Based on a complaint by a BJP Mahila Morcha office-bearer, an FIR was lodged against senior AAP leaders, including Italia, Gadhvi, Hasmukh Patel, Savani, Shiv Kumar and Pravin Ram, and 500 other party workers under 22 criminal sections of three acts at the Infocity police station in Gandhinagar.

According to police, AAP workers were arrested for allegedly trespassing the private property of a political party and clashing with their workers and police force.

“Nearly 70-80 AAP workers have been detained and the process of arresting them is going on as per protocol after the complaint by a BJP worker was converted in an FIR. The police used mild lathicharge to disperse the AAP workers,” Deputy Superintendent of Police MK Rana told The Indian Express.

AAP workers have been booked under IPC Sections 452, 353 , 354a, 341, 323, sections of rioting, 152. 269 , 188, 429, 504, 120b, and Sections of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and Epidemic Diseases Act.

The surprise protest was held in the afternoon when Italia, accompanied by Gadhvi, Savani, Ram and around 200-300 party workers, came to the BJP headquarters to protest the paper leak. Italia told media persons they had come to give a warning letter to BJP state president CR Paatil regarding the paper leak and corruption in the state.

AAP workers protested for around 20-30 minutes inside the office complex chanting anti-BJP slogans, while also demanding the ouster of Gujarat Subordinate Service Selection Board (GSSSB) chairman Asit Vora.It was after this the Gandhinagar police came into action and tried to disperse the protesting AAP workers while resorting to lathicharge.

Later, Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghavi rushed to the BJP headquarters and held a closed-door meeting with the party leaders. “Today, AAP leader Gopal Italia led around 250-300 workers to our party headquarters. They manhandled the security guard and broke the gate to enter the premises. They also verbally abused our party leaders and misbehaved with two women workers, one of whom lodged a police complaint,” said BJP leader Rutvij Patel. He claimed his colleagues had exercised restraint by not resorting to violence during the entire episode.

In her complaint, the woman leader has also alleged that Gadhvi was inebriated. The police have taken Gadhvi’s blood samples to ascertain if he was drunk or not. The complaint stated that despite several warnings by the police and BJP workers, AAP members forcibly entered the premises by breaking the gates. They blocked the footpath and then assaulted the BJP workers with wooden sticks.

“They also assaulted the police personnel at the spot and damaged their vehicles. They passed derogatory comments at me and several other women workers of the BJP and physically assaulted us,” the BJP Mahila Morcha office-bearer’s complaint reads.

Rejecting the BJP allegations, AAP leader Savani said, “Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha president Prashant Korat colluded with the police to attack the AAP workers who were protesting peacefully. We have been assaulted, leaving us with grievous injuries. The allegations against Isudan (Gadhvi) have been made to malign him. His blood test has already been conducted. Soon, the allegations that he was drunk will turn out to be bogus.”

Meanwhile, AAP alleged BJP workers assaulted its workers who were protesting peacefully. The party’s verified handle tweeted pictures of the workers allegedly injured in the clash.

“This barbaric attack on AAP leaders and workers in Gujarat is very condemnable. Voices in people’s interest cannot be suppressed with sticks or autocracy,” tweeted AAP chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

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