About 80 Congress workers were arrested on Monday while holding a public meeting ahead of a march they had planned in support of the student who has accused BJP's former Union minister Chinmayanand of rape, police said.
Accusing the Uttar Pradesh Police of blocking the march, the Congress said its leaders, including former Union minister Jitin Prasad and district Congress president Kaushal Mishra, were detained.
Ajay Kumar Lallu, leader of Congress Legislative Party in the UP Assembly, and senior party leader Dheeraj Gurjar were arrested and kept at the Police Lines, police sources said.
According to Superintendent of Police (city) Dinesh Tripathi, Congress workers were holding a meeting in front of the party office at a time when prohibitory orders were promulgated in the city and 80 of them have been arrested.
"They had not taken any permission from the administration. After arrest, they have been taken to Police Lines," Tripathi said.
Mishra claimed authorities told him that no one would be taking out any rallies.
District borders of Shahjahanpur have been blocked from all sides, the opposition party added on its official Twitter handle.
"SDM Sadar and CO City told me that I and Jitin Prasada have been put under house arrest. When they were asked as to why a heavy police force was deployed outside the residence of Prasada, we were told that no one will be taking out any padyatra," he told PTI.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra hit out at the BJP government in the state alleging that it is stopping her party's march.
"The criminals in UP have the protection of the government so they can intimidate the rape victim," Priyanka Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.
"The UP BJP government wants to suppress the voice seeking justice for daughter of Shahjahanpur. The padyatra is being stopped. Our workers and leaders are being arrested. What is there to be afraid of?" the Congress general secretary in-charge UP East said.
There was heavy police deployment outside the residence of Prasada from 10 in the morning.
"UP is no Kashmir yet today I am in preventive custody for simply wanting to highlight the plight of the Shahjahanpur rape victim. This BJP govt has no qualms in quashing an individual's fundamental rights," he tweeted.
Police personnel, along with the PAC, have been deployed in the district in large numbers.
Speaking to reporters in Lucknow on Sunday, Aradhana Mishra, deputy leader of the Congress Legislative Party in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, had claimed that the BJP government was helping Chinmayanand.
"The BJP government is helping Swami Chinmayanand in every possible way. It has slapped extortion charges on the woman and arrested her, so as to weaken the case against Chinmayanand. In order to ensure delivery of justice to the woman, the Congress will take out a 180-kilometre-long march from Shahjahanpur to Lucknow on Monday," she had said.
"The Congress demands that the hearing of the rape case against Chinmayanand be taken up in a fast-track court," Aradhana Mishra had said, adding that the priority of the opposition party was to ensure that justice was delivered to the woman.
"This fight will be fought by the party from the streets to the state Assembly. The fight for justice will commence from Shahjahanpur on September 30," she had said.
The student was on Wednesday arrested on charges of extortion and sent to 14 days judicial custody. Hours later, her bail plea was rejected.
Chinmayanand, sent to judicial custody after his arrest, has been booked under section 376C of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a charge with lesser punishment than rape.