Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi on Wednesday visited Azamgarh and met the CAA protesters, who were allegedly evicted by police using force in Bilariyaganj area last week. Accusing the BJP governments at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh of trying to destroy the Constitution, Priyanka said that she would send names of the policemen, who had committed atrocities on the protesters, to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
The Congress leader spent around two hours with women and children of the arrested protesters and assured all help from her party. On her directions,state Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu and CLP leader Aradhna Mishra visited a local hospital to meet 65-year-old Sarwari Bano who was seriously injured in the police action and had to undergo surgery.
Asserting that raising voice in a democracy was not a crime, Priyanka addressed the gathered crowd from the rooftop of her SUV. “I have heard that you faced injustice. Wherever there is injustice, I will be there. It is the job of the police to safeguard you, not beat you up. They have sent young children to jail. What happened here was wrong. It was an injustice,” Priyanka Gandhi said.
“The government which is at the Centre, and the one which is in UP, is anti-people and anti-poor and is working to destroy the Constitution. If you and us do not save it, the Constitution will be destroyed,” she added.
“I had gone to Bijnor, Varanasi, Lucknow, Muzaffarnagar and Meerut. I have visited all the places where injustice has been done by the police and the administration. I have sent a report to the National Human Rights Commission. With that report, I will also send a report about what happened here. I will send names of the policemen who have committed atrocities. The Congress will stand with you till you get justice,” she said amid sloganeering by the crowd.
Several Muslim women had staged a protest at Jauhar Park area in Azamgarh last week against the amended Citizenship Act and the proposed creation of a National Register of Citizens (NRC) but were dispersed by the police in the wee hours of February 5 allegedly by charging them with batons. A case of sedition was lodged against 35 people, and 19 people were arrested.
Referring to the recent Supreme Court’s order that reservation was not a fundamental right, Priyanka hit out at the BJP. “The BJP government has said that reservation is not a Constitutional right. In the apex court also, the BJP is talking about breaking our Constitutional principles. All of us must stand together because all the laws they are trying to bring are not just against one community, but are against the Constitution… This government is against Dalits, Backwards and the Constitution. This fight is to save the country and its prestigious legacy. We will not move back by an inch in the fight. I am proud that I am part of this fight,” Priyanka said.
Two days ago, she had expressed her happiness over the NHRC taking cognizance a complaint filed by the Congress against the UP government and administration over the police action during anti-CAA protests in December. “Happy to see the Honourable NHRC taking cognisance of our complaint. We are hopeful that Honourable chairman of the NHRC will ensure justice to the aggrieved,” she had tweeted on Monday.
Earlier in the day, she had made brief stopovers at two schools on her way to Azamgarh. “She had stopped at a school in the Pindra area of Varanasi and one in Jaunpur. She met children at the schools and told them to concentrate on their studies,” Lallu, who accompanied her, said.
This is the Congress general secretary’s second visit to eastern UP in less than a week after her Varanasi trip on Sunday on the occasion of Ravidas Jayanti. Notably, Azamgarh is the parliamentary constituency of Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav.