Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who were en route to Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras to meet the family of a Dalit woman who died after being allegedly gangraped, were stopped on the Yamuna Expressway in Greater Noida before being arrested by the state police.
According to news agency PTI, they were released after being kept in a guest house and are headed back towards Delhi escorted by the UP police. An FIR has been lodged against Rahul, Priyanka and around 200 party workers under sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Epidemic Diseases Act by the state police.
Earlier in the day, the Hathras administration imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 for maintaining law and order in the area and ordered to seal the borders of the district even as protests intensified over the incident. The alleged gangrape of the 19-year-old woman and the subsequent heavy-handedness by the police, who did not let her family perform her last rites, has sparked widespread outrage, with the Opposition calling for UP CM Yogi Adityanath’s resignation.
Rahul and Priyanka were received by a large number of Congress workers when they entered UP via the DND flyover. As their vehicles marched forward, they were stopped by the police near Greater Noida’s Pari Chowk, prompting party workers and senior leaders to proceed on foot.
— Manoj C G (@manojcg4u) October 1, 2020
“He (Adityanath) would have to do something for women’s safety. We will continue to fight till the time he does something. The women in the entire state will fight as they realise that they are not safe and secure. Everyday such incidents are happening. Eleven rape cases are registered in Uttar Pradesh everyday,” Priyanka said. “Such cases are rising and the government is not doing anything. Unless we shake the government or wake them up, they will not do anything for women’s safety.”
As their foot march reached Yamuna Expressway near the Jewar toll plaza, the Congress workers got into a scuffle with the police as the latter tried to stop them from proceeding. The party shared the pictures of the scuffle, alleging that even Rahul Gandhi was pushed to the ground by the police.
Rahul Gandhi alleged that in India today only RSS people and Prime Minister Narendra Modi can move around. “In today’s India, only Modi can walk or travel by air. No one else can,” the former Congress president said. In a tweet in Hindi, he earlier said, “In times of sorrow, loved ones are not left alone. It is Jungle Raj in UP that meeting a family in mourning also scares the government. Do not be so afraid chief minister.”
The 19-year-old Dalit woman was allegedly raped by four upper-caste men in Hathras on September 14 and later died at Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital on Tuesday. She had severe injuries on her spinal cord and neck, leaving her paralysed in all four limbs, and her tongue was cut off by the assaulters. Her parents had alleged that the local police forcibly performed the last rites of the victim little after 3 am on Wednesday, even though they wanted to bring her body home one last time.
Priyanka alleged that the police also lathicharged Congress workers, including Rahul. “When we all started our march on foot with Rahul ji, we were repeatedly stopped and lathis were rained on us in a barbaric manner. Many workers were injured. But our intention is clear. The sticks of an egotistical government cannot stop us. I wish these lathis were used by this police while standing in defence of Hathras’s Dalit daughter,” she said in a tweet in Hindi.
The police later detained the Gandhis along with party leaders Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, KC Venugopal and Randeep Surjewala and took them to Buddh International Circuit guest house.
— Manoj C G (@manojcg4u) October 1, 2020
Surrounded by reporters and party workers, Rahul questioned senior UP cops under which law was he being stopped as he wanted to go to Hathras alone and did not intend to violate Section 144. The cops told him that he had violated Section 188 of the IPC of disobeying orders promulgated by the government during the pandemic.
The Congress, however, said the Gandhis were arrested by the police. “Shri Rahul Gandhi, Smt Priyanka Gandhi and senior Congress leaders have been arrested by the UP police,” the party said on Twitter, using the hashtag “JusticeForIndiasDaughters”.
#WATCH Rahul Gandhi, who has been stopped at Yamuna Expressway on his way to Hathras, asks police, “I want to walk to Hathras alone. Please tell me under which section are you arresting me.”
Police says, “We are arresting you under Section 188 IPC for violation of an order. ” pic.twitter.com/uJKwPxauv5
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) October 1, 2020
Earlier, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala put out a video along with a tweet showing Rahul being roughed. “Lala Lajpat Rai had said that every blow of a stick on my body would prove to be the last nail in the coffin of the British Raj. The sticks on Rahul ji and Priyanka ji’s convoy will also prove to be the last nail in the coffin of the Yogi government,” Surjewala said in a tweet in Hindi.
On the Gandhis’ detention, Congress leader P Chidambaram alleged that none of the country’s laws seemed to apply to the UP police. “UP police is a law into itself. None of the laws of the country seem to apply to it,” he tweeted.
“What is wrong if the leaders of a political party protest against a gruesome crime and wish to visit the victim’s family,” he added.
Opposition parties led protests in other states as well. Several Congress state units also led protest march against the Hathras incident.
Citing a forensic science laboratory (FSL) report, Uttar Pradesh ADG (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar on Thursday said the 19-year-old Hathras woman who succumbed to injuries at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital was not raped.
The senior Uttar Pradesh police officer also said the Dalit woman, who had been assaulted by four upper-caste men in Hathras district on September 14, died due to an injury on the neck and trauma resulting due to it as per a post mortem report of Safdarjung Hospital.
Citing forensic report, UP ADG (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar claims Hathras woman not raped pic.twitter.com/kC2J97n5oA
“The report of the FSL has also come. It says clearly that samples did not have sperm. It makes clear that there was not rape or gang rape,” Kumar said. “Even the woman in her statement to police did not mention about rape but talked about ‘marpeet’ (beating) only,” he said.
Stressing that some people “distorted facts” in the media, Kumar said it was done to disturb social harmony and create caste violence.
“For disturbing social harmony and create caste violence, some persons wrongly presented facts. Police took immediate action in the case and now we will identify those who tried to disturb social harmony and create caste violence,” the ADG said.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), meanwhile, has issued notices to the UP government and the state’s police chief in connection with the case.
Allahabad HC summons top UP govt officials in Hathras case
Upset with the alleged gang-rape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit woman in Hathras district and her forcible cremation subsequently, a Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Thursday summoned top government officials to the court. A bench of justices Rajan Roy and Jaspreet Singh issued summons to the Uttar Pradesh additional chief secretary, director general of police and additional director general of police, asking them to be present before the court on October 12 explain the case.
NCW asks UP police for explanation on hurried cremation of Hathras victim
The National Commission for Women has sought an explanation from the Uttar Pradesh Police on the “urgency to cremate the body of the
victim” of the Hathras incident. NCW has said that the incident “underlines the grim state of women in the society”. It has asked the administration to send a reply on the same at the earliest.
Hitting out at CM Yogi Adityanath over the deaths of two women in Hathras and Balrampur regions of UP, BSP chief Mayawati alleged that Adityanath was “incapable” in handling law and order and should be replaced. Mayawati asked BJP to send Adityanath back to his Gorakhpur math or to oversee construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya, failing which President’s rule should be imposed in the state.
#WATCH | UP CM Yogi Adityanath should resign if he can’t ensure safety to women. I urge the Central govt to send him to his place – Gorakhnath Math. If he doesn’t like the temple, he should be given the task of Ram Temple construction: BSP chief Mayawati pic.twitter.com/tYodWKxECT
— ANI (@ANI) October 1, 2020
“Kendra ki sarkar ko yahi kehna hai…Adityanath Yogi is layak nahi hain ki law and order sambhal saken (I have to say only this to Central Government that Adityanath Yogi is not capable enough to control law and order),” Mayawati said while alleging that he was made CM under pressure from RSS.
“Behtar hoga, Adityanath ko jahan unki asali jagah hai Gorakhpur mein math mein baitha den…Aur yadi Gorakhpur ka math bhi acha nahi lag raha to Ayodhya mein ram mandir ka nirman ho raha hai to BJP yeh kaam unko saunp de (It would be better that Adityanath is send back to his original place, that is Gorakhpur math and if he does not like it there, then he can be sent to oversee construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya),” Mayawati said.
BJP Dalit MPs demand strict actions against UP police officials
BJP MP and Dalit leader Kirit Solanki has said the UP Police needed to be “more sensitive and responsible” as their actions triggered anger among people following the cremation of the Hathras Dalit woman in dead of night. Calling the Hathras case “unfortunate,” Solanki said he strongly condemns the incident and the guilty should be hanged if the rape charge is proven.
“Stringent punishment should be awarded to those who found guilty for this heinous crime. And if gang-rape is proven, they should be hanged as per the law,” PTI quoted him as saying.
“As per media reports which I have seen, what police did there, like burning her body in the night, people are very dissatisfied with this. Uttar Pradesh Police should have been more sensitive and responsible,” he added.
Another Dalit MP from the saffron party Hans Raj Hans also demanded that the UP government should take strict actions against the officials responsible for the hasty cremation of the Hathras victim.
Opposition leaders condemn heckling of Rahul Gandhi
DMK president M K Stalin demanded that the UP CM apologise for the alleged inhumane treatment meted out to Rahul Gandhi by police, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also condemned the action of the police and the BJP government in UP for the incident.
“Rahul Gandhi has all the democratic right and constitutional freedom to go to Hathras. Preventing him from going to meet the victim’s family was against all democratic principles. This cannot be allowed by a democratic community and was highly condemnable,” Vijayan said in a statement.
Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda asked the Uttar Pradesh government to immediately release Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi.
With PTI inputs
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