Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was detained today after she was barred from visiting the victims of a firing incident in a village in Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress leader was taken to a guesthouse after she staged a sit-in protest on the road, insisting that she be allowed to proceed, or New Delhi correspondent reports quoting police officials.
On Wednesday, 10 people were killed and 18 others injured in a clash between supporters of the village head and Gond tribals over a piece of land in Sonbhadra’s Ghorawal area. Village headman Yagya Dutt’s supporters allegedly opened fire on the tribals.
Congress leaders, including former party president Rahul Gandhi, alleged that Priyanka was “illegally arrested” and Uttar Pradesh government was attempting to “crush” democracy while local police officials maintained she was only detained in Narainpur in the state’s Mirzapur district.
Priyanka Gandhi landed in Varanasi, the parliamentay constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and met the injured at a medical facility before making her way to Sonbhadra, about 80 kilometres away. She was stopped on Varanasi-Mirzapur border and taken to a nearby guesthouse.
Priyanka Gandhi and other members of the Congress were “stopped and detained” at Narainpur while they were on their way to Sonbhadra, said Deputy Inspector General Piyush Kumar Srivastava.
Sonbhadra District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police are in talks with Priyanka Gandhi at the guesthouse to persuade her not to move to Sonbhadra, the DIG said. Prohibitory orders are in force in the Ghorawal area in the district, Srivastava added.
An agitated Priyanka Gandhi said she only wanted to meet the affected families and demanded to be shown the orders under which she was stopped.
“A boy of my son’s age was shot at and is lying in hospital. Tell me on what legal basis have I been stopped here,” she said.
“I can move ahead only with four people. I want to meet the victims... I only want to meet the affected families whose members have been mercilessly shot dead.”
Local Congress leader Ajai Rai from the area said she was taken into police custody along with other Congress leaders and workers.
“This arbitrary application of power reveals the BJP government’s increasing insecurity in UP,” Rahul Gandhi said.
Total 29 people, including the village headman Yagya Dutt and his brother, were arrested over the incident. A committee under the Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue) has been constituted and will give its report within 10 days, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said in a statement in the assembly.
As the matter snowballed into a political issue, Adityanath promised justice and said the sub-divisional magistrate and four other officials were suspended.
Asked to comment on the development, UP Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma told reporters in Lucknow that, “It is the ruling party or the opposition, everyone’s collective responsibility to ensure that the situation does not aggravate further.”
“The opposition should help the government in building bonhomie among the people,” he added.