Priyanka detained in UP, refuses to leave
Mirzapur: Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi remained in detention here on Friday, five hours after she was driven to a guest house after insisting on proceeding to Sonebhadra district in Uttar Pradesh where 10 people were killed in caste violence.
Congress sources said the authorities in Mirzapur were trying to persuade Gandhi to sign a bond and return to Delhi but she had refused, firm on going to the site where the killings took place in a clash between Gonds and Gujjars on Wednesday.
Gandhi was detained at the Chunar Guest House here after she was stopped from going to Murtiya village in Sonebhadra district. The police denied that she had been arrested.
The Congress leader arrived in Varanasi on Friday morning and met the injured persons admitted to the Trauma Centre at the Banaras Hindu University.
When she proceeded towards Sonebhadra, her convoy was stopped on the Mirzapur border.
A defiant Gandhi then squatted on the grounds with Congress workers and was later taken away in a government vehicle to Chunar.
She told reporters: “I don’t know where are they taking me. We are ready to go anywhere.”
Gandhi asked the officials for written orders on why she was being prevented from going to Sonebhadra.
“I just want to meet the families of the victims. I am willing to take only four people with me because I do not want to defy the prohibitory orders and yet the district administration is not allowing us,” she complained.
At least 10 people, including three women, died and over 24 were injured in a clash between Gond and Gujjar communities over a land dispute in Sonebhadra.
Gandhi demanded Rs 25 lakh in compensation to each family of the killed.
Before being taken to Chunar, she said that she would not be cowed down by the police action which she argued had no legal basis.
Gandhi later tweeted that the state’s BJP government had failed to curb violence and was instead curbing her rights to stand up for the rights of the victims.
Soon after news came in that Gandhi had been whisked off to Chunar, Congress leaders staged a dharna at the Gandhi statue in Lucknow and outside the BJP headquarters in New Delhi.
A Samajwadi Party delegation which was on its way to Sonebhadra was also prevented from going there. A Trinamool Congress team is set to go to Sonebhadra on Saturday.
Former Congress President and Priyanka’s brother Rahul Gandhi described her detention was “disturbing”.
“This arbitrary application of power, to prevent her from meeting families of the 10 Adivasi farmers brutally gunned down for refusing to vacate their own land, reveals the BJP government’s increasing insecurity in UP,” he tweeted.
Police have arrested 24 people in connection with the caste violence. A case has been filed against 78 people.