Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday reached Umbha village in Sonbhadra district where 10 tribals were shot dead over a land dispute last month and met the families of the victims.
Priyanka, who was detained at Chunar on July 19 while on her way to Umbha village, had promised to visit the village and meet the victims’ families. On Tuesday, Priyanka spent around an hour and a half in the village and assured the victims’ families all help “till they get their land back”.
According to a PTI report, she also visited the spot in the village where on July 17, village pradhan Yagya Dutt and his aides allegedly opened fire at the tribals tilling the disputed land.
After meeting the families, Priyanka told mediapersons that she had come to know about police registering “false cases” against 80-90 villagers, including women, and pressing charges against them under the Goonda Act.
Demanding withdrawal of such cases against “innocent villagers”, she said: “We will stand with these people till they get their land back. They are still being harassed by the administration and the government… Mahilaon pe Goonda Act lagaya gaya hai (They have charged under Goonda Act on women).”
When asked about a UP government report, in which the Congress governments of the 1950s were blamed for the land dispute, Priyanka hit back, saying that it has become a habit of the BJP to blame the Congress. “Yeh BJP ki aadat hai ki hamesha Congress pe hi aarop lagate rehte hain, jabki jimmedari unki hai… unko yeh samashya suljhaani hai. Yahah itna bada kaand hua hai, itna pratarit kiya gaya hai, log itne dukhi hain..” (It has become the habit of BJP to blame Congress, it is in fact their responsibility. They have to solve the problems. Here such a big incident has happened, people have suffered and they are sad),” she told mediapersons.
Earlier in the day, she had tweeted, “Today, I am going to Sonbhadra to meet the brothers and sisters and the children of Umbha village, inquire about their well-being and to be part of their struggle.” “I had promised the members of Umbha village’s affected families who had come to meet me at Chunar Fort that I will visit them,” she tweeted in Hindi.
During the last month’s visit, Priyanka Gandhi had also visited some of the injured at a Varanasi hospital. On Tuesday, she demanded proper health and education facilities for the people of the region, along with the land to the landless, including the affected families.
Priyanka’s visit, however, drew flak from the ruling BJP, as well as the BSP.
Calling her visit to a “political stunt”, BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma said, “The root cause of the Sonbhadra incident can be traced to the previous Congress governments. She (Priyanka) should go there to repent the act of former Congress leaders. After so many days, when the action has already been initiated into the incident, this is only a political stunt.”
BSP president Mayawati also took a swipe at the Congress and the Samajwadi Party after Priyanka Gandhi’s visit to Sonbhadra. “According to the victims of the Sonbhadra case, first the land mafia of Congress and SP grabbed their land, following which many of the tribals were killed… Instead of shedding crocodile tears, the SP and Congress leaders should now come forward to restore the land to the tribals so that this could be corrected,” Mayawati tweeted.
Till date, 55 people, including the village pradhan, has been arrested in connection with the July 17 firing. The government had removed the District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police of the district besides ordering action against 13 other officials.
—With PTI Inputs