Ramon Magsaysay Award winner says put under house arrest, Lucknow administration denies charge

Ramon Magsaysay Award winner social activist Sandeep Pandey here on Sunday claimed that he was put under house arrest on three occasions in the past week to prevent him from expressing views on national issues. The Lucknow district administration, however, rejected the claim. In the past one week, we have been stopped thrice by the police and administration from freely expressing our views. I was put under house arrest on three occasions (August 11, 16 and 17), Pandey claimed, adding that they were prevented from going to Ayodhya for a two-day programme on communal amity on Saturday. We were stopped mid-way, Pandey said. The social activist slammed the alleged stalling of their programmes, saying it seemed as if there was a ban on the freedom of expression. Pandey said on August 16, they were prevented from going to Hazaratganj in Lucknow, where they were scheduled to hold a candlelight demonstration near the Mahatma Gandhi statue against the scrapping of the special status for Jammu and kashmir. Police arrived again at my and advocate Mohammad Shoaibs place to put us under house arrest an hour and half ago before the programme, Pandey had said in a statement issued on August 16. He said their August 11 protest was for the restoration of democracy in the Valley. On the other hand, Lucknow District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma rubbished the claims made by Pandey, who had won the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2002 in the emergent leader category. Who is stopping him from holding protests at the Eco Garden in the city. He cannot stage any protest in Hazratganj – the heart of the state capital – as the High Court has banned all protests in the area, he said. The dharna sthal (protest venue) of the district has been identified and he is most welcome to hold any protest, dharna or agitation there for as many days he likes. Why does he deliberately opts for spots where protests are not allowed? the Lucknow DM said. Sharma said earlier Pandey was told to go to the Eco Garden but he did not comply with the orders. The DM denied that Pandey was put under house arrest. He was neither put under house arrest nor detained. We intervened when they announced to go to Hazratganj.