UP Police on Tuesday stopped Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra from entering Meerut while they were on their way to meet the families of those killed in the protest against new citizenship law and proposed NRC. Police said that the Gandhi siblings were not allowed to visit the families “keeping in mind their security and the prevailing law and order situation”. Police, however, said that Rahul and Priyanka could visit Meerut on Thursday to meet the families.
At least six persons have died in Meerut since Friday’s protest.
“We were suddenly informed that Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi were coming to Meerut to meet the bereaved families of those who died during Friday’s violence. We stopped them near Moiddinpur Sugar Mill in Partapur. Keeping in mind their security and the prevailing law and order situation in the town, we have requested them to postpone their plan. They are welcome if they come again on Thursday,” Superintendent of Police (Meerut city) Akhilesh Narain Singh said, adding that prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC are already in force in Meerut district.
However, Rahul Gandhi said, “We asked the police to show us the order, but they did not show any order for stopping us and told us to return,” Rahul Gandhi told reporters.
According to a police statement, Rahul and Priyanka were served a notice which said that section 144 of the CrPC has been imposed and the situation in Meerut was sensitive. “They were told that they will be held responsible for any deterioration of the law and order situation in the district due to their visit,” the police said, adding that both went back on their own.
In Delhi, the Congress hit out at the UP government for preventing the Gandhi siblings from meeting the families of dead protesters.”Strongly condemn the UP govt’s decision to stop Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi from travelling to Meerut. What India needs at this moment is a healing touch and not such curbs against the opposition parties,” Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said.
His Rajasthan counterpart Ashok Gehlot said it was absolutely undemocratic and unfortunate that they were stopped by UP police. “Government is not letting the opposition to stand in solidarity with the victims,” he said. Congress leader and former Rajya Sabha MP Pramod Tiwari, who was with the Gandhis, said the police gave them in writing that the situation in Meerut was very sensitive and tense and thus, did not want us to visit the area.
Tiwari wondered what the police were trying to hide by not not allowing them to meet the families. “We were stopped and were told to visit three days later. Our intention was peaceful and we did not want to aggravate the situation. We expect that the police will fulfill their promise of helping us meet the aggrieved families in Meerut in the next few days,” he told reporters.
Later, senior state Congress leaders Imran Masood and Pankaj Malik met the victims’ families. A Congress spokesperson said that the Gandhis will again try to meet the families on Wednesday. Meanwhile, local Congress leaders had reached Moiddinpur Sugar Mills in large number to greet Rahul and Priyanka as local administration made elaborate police arrangement to ward off any violence in the wake of their visit.
On Sunday, Priyanka had visited Bijnor to met the families of some of the protesters who died there.
—With ENS, New Delhi
Anil Vij: Rahul, Priyanka live petrol bombs
Chandigarh: Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij on Tuesday described Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi as “live petrol bombs”, and asked people to beware of them. “Beware of @priyankagandhi and @Rahul Gandhi as they are live Petrol Bombs where ever they go they ignite fire and cause loss to Public Property,” Vij tweeted on Tuesday.
Haryana Congress spokesperson Ved Prakash Vidrohi said, “Vij is a non-serious person, who is in the habit of passing such comments… In fact, the BJP and RSS have the patent for causing such incidents.” —ENS