New Delhi: The Delhi Police on Friday detained several senior Congress leaders, including Rahiul Gandhi and Shashi Tharoor, and removed them from the protest site after they launched a march from Parliament to Rashtrapati Bhavan against issues of price rise, unemployment and GST on food items. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who staged a sit-in protest outside the AICC headquarters, was also detained and police personnel asked her to move from there as section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) is in force in the entire area of New Delhi district except Jantar Mantar.
Regarding the police action, Rahul said, “We were planning a peaceful march to the Rashtrapati Bhawan. Police can use force, but we are not scared.”
Wearing black clothes, Congress MPs, led by Rahul and party chief Sonia Gandhi, were staging the protest.
The protesting MPs of the opposition party raised slogans against the government demanding that the GST hike on essential items be withdrawn, with Sonia Gandhi standing with the women MPs of the party, holding a banner, outside gate number 1 of Parliament.
They were, however, stopped by the Delhi Police and not allowed to proceed towards the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
"Again today, Congress MPs denied democratic right to protest against price rise, unemployment and GST. Bundled into police vans at Vijay Chowk. It's clear, only those who are afraid try to instill fear!" party leader Jairam Ramesh said in a tweet.
The Congress leaders, including former party chief Rahul Gandhi, wore black shirts and black bands on their arms as a mark of protest.
Leaders and workers of the Congress assembled at the party headquarters here to participate in the nationwide protest against price rise, the hike in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on essential items and unemployment.
The party is also protesting against the alleged misuse of probe agencies by the government to target its leaders.
Top Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, reached the party headquarters in the morning. The Delhi Police has denied permission to the opposition party to stage a protest in the national capital as prohibitory orders are in place in New Delhi district.
The Congress workers also seek to gherao Prime Minister Narendra Modi's residence as part of the protest.
The protesting Congress MPs tied lemons, chilies and empty packets of dairy products around their neck as a mark of protest.
Meanwhile, security at the Congress headquarters has been beefed up as the party workers, led by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, are slated to gherao the prime minister's residence.
A large number of police personnel has been deployed at 24, Akbar road amid heavy rains in Central Delhi.
The entire lane leading up to the Congress office has been heavily barricaded and the media has also been barred to enter the party office.
'India is witnessing death of democracy'
Earlier, Rahul alleged that India is witnessing the "death of democracy" and anybody who stands against the onset of dictatorship is "viciously attacked".
Addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters here ahead of the protest, he said the Gandhi family is attacked because it fights for democracy and communal harmony.
Gandhi charged that the sole agenda of the government is that people's issues such as price rise, unemployment and violence in society must not be raised.
There is no democracy in India and there is a dictatorship of four people, he alleged.