Varun challenges NSA in apex court;Shifted to Etah jail due to terror threat

via PNS | New Delhi/Etah published on April 1, 2009





Hours
after he was shifted to Etah prison from Pilibhit in a ‘secret’
midnight operation, Varun Gandhi moved the Supreme Court on Wednesday
challenging the imposition of National Security Act (NSA) against him.

Throughout
the day, Varun remained in the news amid speculation he was shifted to
Etah on intelligence reports that he faced threat from underworld don
Chhota Shakeel in Pilibhit jail. The intelligence agencies had
reportedly informed the State Government a week ago about an
intercepted telephonic conversation between Pakistan-based Chhota
Shakeel and his key shooter Rashid indicating a plot to kill the
29-year-old Gandhi, the day he came to surrender at a Pilibhit court.

However,
the State Government refuted the reports and asserted he was
transferred to high-security Etah jail only to ensure peaceful
elections. “News reports appearing in a section of media on Wednesday
are far from truth,” Director General of Police Vikram Singh told
reporters in Lucknow.

Varun’s parliamentarian mother Maneka
Gandhi, who met her son in Etah jail on Wednesday, alleged Congress and
BSP were conspiring to get Varun killed, just to appease a particular
set of voters and the people of the country were with Varun in this
difficult hour. “Varun is not only my son, but that of the entire
country,” Maneka told reporters.

At the same time, BJP chief
Rajnath Singh asked senior leader M Venkaiah Naidu and State president
Ramapati Ram Tripathi to call on Varun in jail in Etah on Thursday.
Naidu would also head a team comprising Tripathi, election in-charge
Kalraj Mishra and State organisational secretary Nagendra that would
closely monitor the speeches of BJP candidates and see that they
exercise restrain. “Naidu will report back to Rajnath on his meeting
with Varun in Etah Jail,” BJP sources said.

Seeking quashing
of the NSA provisions issued by District Magistrate Pilibhit on March
29 in his submission in the Supreme Court, Varun alleged the decision
was politically motivated. He highlighted several technical defects in
the order that rendered it illegal and unconstitutional, being an
affront to his fundamental rights enshrined under Article 21 (right to
life) and Article 19 (right to freedom of speech and expression).

Taking
the State administration head on, Varun in his petition filed through
advocate Sandeep Kapoor submitted that his detention was against the
rulebook. According to him, before detaining a person under NSA, the
detaining authority is required to be supplied with original documents
and true copies, with a copy made available to the detainee. In his
case, this rule was violated as typed copies were made available.

Material
documents relating to the reasons of arrest too were not supplied to
him, the petition alleged. Even with regard to the alleged fiery
speeches that served the basis of slapping the serious charge under
NSA, Varun stated that neither the original CDs nor its copies were
placed before the detaining authority. Interestingly, it is based on
the CDs the three FIRs against him were lodged.

Varun has also
taken a dig at his political opponents suggesting the entire incident
was stage-managed to sabotage his political debut. “The entire attempt
is a combined effort of DM Pilibhit and UP Government to ensure that
the petitioner is not able to contest and campaign for the general
elections scheduled for next month.” On this ground, he urged the court
to quash his illegal detention stating that the orders “will not only
deprive the liberty of the petitioner but will also have effect of
virtually prohibiting him from contesting and campaigning.”

The
BJP said the UP and the UPA Governments should not pass the buck and
ensure proper security for its candidate. “It should not be that
someone else is casualty in the politics between the two Governments,”
BJP spokesman Sidharth Nath Singh said in New Delhi.

BJP
veterans, including LK Advani and Rajnath Singh, also rallied behind
the party candidate from Pilibhit saying he had been framed. “The move
to detain him (Varun) under NSA is purely due to vote bank politics in
Uttar Pradesh … And everybody knows who are behind it,” the NDA
leader said in Orissa.

Reports from Etah said that after the
early morning arrival of Varun, more than 1000 BJP supporters
surrounded the city jail. The crowd grew unruly in the afternoon when
Varun’s mother and BJP leader Maneka Gandhi arrived at the jail to
visit her son.

Since there was permission to allow only three
visitors for Varun, the jail staff had to forcibly prevent hundreds of
supporters trying to break into the prison to meet their leader,
causing a scuffle at the gate.

Flooded with different responses
from State leaders, the BJP office-bearers are also meeting in New
Delhi on Friday to take stock of the situation and decide the future
course of action in Uttar Pradesh, which has turned volatile following
Varun’s arrest.

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