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Man with revolver detained while trying to move close to Rahul

Tappal (UP): In a security scare for Rahul Gandhi, a young man carrying a licensed revolver was detained while trying to move close to the Congress leader during his padayatra today in Aligarh district in Uttar Pradesh.

The man with a licensed .32 bore revolver was nabbed in this village by Special Protection Group (SPG) personnel accompanying Rahul when he was found heading towards the second ring of the AICC General Secretary’s security cordon.

Harikrishan Sharma was picked up at around 8.30 AM and was immediately handed over to the UP Police. Locals said he belonged to Tappal village and claimed that he is a Congress worker.

The UP police claimed that the incident was not a “blatant security breach” and that Sharma is a “properly verified” resident of nearby Udaipur village.

It however utilised the incident to slam the padayatra from the security point of view, saying this kind of “risks” are very much there when there is an “unannounced” movement. It is also a “free for all kind of a thing,” Aligarh SSP Satyendra Vir Singh said.

Sharma is currently being interrogated by the police. He reportedly did not attempt to brandish or use the firearm.

The incident took place two hours after Rahul resumed his footmarch to Aligarh to make common cause with farmers in the state over Mayawati government “forcibly” acquiring land from farmers at cheap prices. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC remains in force in Aligarh where the padayatra will culminate in the kisan mahapanchayat on Saturday.

SSP Singh said, “It is not blatant security breach. He (Sharma) is a properly verified person. There is nothing adverse against him in the police records, that is why he was issued a license for his revolver after proper police verification. His intentions of being present there are absolutely clear. There is no malafide.”

Rahul is in Tappal on the third day of his padayatra and was headed towards Aligarh town for the Congress-backed ‘kisan mahapanchayat’ on Saturday. Five persons, including a policemen and four farmers, were killed in violent protests at Tappal in August 2010 during the agitation by farmers.

SSP Singh said that as a professional police officer he can say that “proper” security norms for Rahul’s padayatra have not been followed at all.

He said Sharma belonged to nearby Udaipur village and that he was passing by in his own Alto car with his wife when he saw some VIP movement.

“It was by chance that he(Sharma) was passing through that route. He stood there just out of curiousity to meet the VIP. He got out of anxiety. It was out of chance that he was carrying his licensed weapon, a revolver. The SPG personnel caught hold of this man and handed him over to the local police,” he said.

Referring to Rahul’s unannounced movement, Singh said “We do not know the route he is taking, the places he is going to visit, the places he is going to halt. So it is a free for all kind of a thing.”

Singh further said that the persons surrounding Rahul are not security cleared.
“They have not been frisked or checked. It is the job of the local police but for that we must be informed of the route he is going to take. All these routes should be cleared and sanitised,” he added.

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