Hardik Patel, the leader of the Patidar quota agitaion in Gujarat, was briefly arrested in Neemuch district of Madhya Pradesh while on his way to Mandsaur to meet the kin of the farmers killed in police firing last week.
Several political leaders from AAP and Congress including Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, were stopped from entering the violence-hit district.
Patel was arrested from Nayagaon in Neemuch to prevent the commission of cognisable offences, City Superintendent of Police Abhishek Diwan said.
The Patidar Andolan leader was accompanied by Janata Dal (U) leader Akhilesh Katiyar, who was also arrested.
The two were, however, released on bail later and transported out of Madhya Pradesh in police vehicles, Diwan said.
Patel was on his way to Mandsaur to express solidarity with distressed farmers.
“I am not a terrorist. I have not come from Lahore. I am an Indian citizen and have the right to go anywhere in the country,” lashed out Patel.
He also criticised the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and said that 50 crore farmers have come together against the saffron party.
The farmers’ protest in Madhya Pradesh, which began on June 1, took a violent turn on June 6, when five of them were killed in police firing in Mandsaur.
Subsequently, the protest witnessed bandh and arson as the agitation spread to other districts of western Madhya Pradesh including Neemuch, Dhar, Ratlam and Jhabua. Soon prohibitory orders were in place and additional forces were called in to control the escalating situation.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had launched an indefinite fast in Bhopal on Saturday with an appeal for peace and met farmer leaders.
However, he ended his fast on Sunday saying peace has returned to the state. Before ending the fast, he had assured people that those involved in the deaths of farmers in Mandsaur would be punished severely.
(With inputs from PTI)