Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was taken into preventive custody Friday when she went to meet the victims of Sonbhadra incident in Uttar Pradesh in which 10 people, including three women, were killed over a land dispute. The Gandhi scion sat on dharna in Mirzapur alleging that the administration has stopped them from going to Sonbhadra. Earlier in the day, she met victims at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi.
“I want to peacefully meet the family members of the victims who had fallen to the bullets in the clash. I want to see the orders under which I have been stopped to meet them. I can move ahead only with four people. I want to meet the victims,” Priyanka said while sitting on the dharna.
— Maulshree Seth (@MaulshreeSeth) July 19, 2019
The Congress leader has also refused to vacate the area and said that she’s “ready to go to jail” if that is what CM Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government intends to do as a consequence of her trying to meet the victims.
Priyanka took to Twitter saying the BJP was unsuccessful in catching the criminal, however, it is becoming an obstruction in carrying her duty and requested the Uttar Pradesh government to stop the crime. “It is the duty of the UP government to catch the criminals. It is my duty to stand with the victims of the crime. While the BJP was unsuccessful in preventing the crime, the party is not allowing me to carry my duty. Nobody can stop me from supporting the victims of the crime. Please stop the crime,” she wrote on Twitter.
उत्तर प्रदेश सरकार की ड्यूटी है अपराधियों को पकड़ना।
मेरा कर्तव्य है अपराध से पीड़ित लोगों के पक्ष में खड़े होना।
भाजपा अपराध रोकने में तो नाकामयाब है मगर मुझे मेरा कर्तव्य करने से रोक रही है।
मुझे पीड़ितों के समर्थन में खड़े होने से कोई रोक नहीं सकता।
कृपया अपराध रोकिए!
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) July 19, 2019
After Priyanka was taken into preventive custody, husband Robert Vadra called on the arrest as “completely unconstitutional” and questioned the intentions of the government. “The way my wife & congress leader, Priyanka has been arrested, is completely unconstitutional. No documents were produced for the arrest..This is a complete abuse of law in every respect. Is it a crime to visit the family of the deceased? Does this government wants to suppress every voice that sides the truth? The state government should immediately release her and let democracy be a democracy and not a dictatorship,” Vadra said in a Facebook post.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanth promised justice to those killed in the clash saying the sub-divisional magistrate and four other officials were suspended and 29 people have been arrested. A committee under the additional chief secretary (Revenue) has also been constituted and will give its report within 10 days, he said.
“Despite dispute between the two factions in the past and apprehensions of breach of peace adequate action was not taken by officers. SDM, Circle officer and Inspector–all posted in Ghorawal have been suspended on basis of the probe committee, constituted on July 17, report. Beat sub-inspector and constable have also been suspended,” PTI quoted Adityanath as saying.
On Wednesday, Priyanka had requested Adityanath to keep her security at a minimum during her visits to the state for the convenience of people.
In a letter sent to Adityanath, Priyanka praised the state administration and police for security arrangements made during her visits, but at the same time requested the Chief Minister to reduce the number of personnel and vehicles deployed. “I appreciate the security arrangements made by the police and administration during my visit to the state but it causes a lot of inconvenience to the people and this troubles me. Since I am a ‘sevak’ of people, they should not face any trouble because of me,” she wrote, adding that in Delhi and other states, only one vehicle is deployed for her security.
Referring to her and her mother Sonia Gandhi’s visit to Raebareli in June, she said that as many as 22 vehicles were deployed in her fleet, which according to her troubled both public and workers.
On Thursday, the Congress demanded a judicial inquiry by a Supreme Court judge into the killing in Sonbhadra district.
The Congress sent its Legislature Party Leader Ajay Kumar Lallu to Sonbhadra, who met the injured as well as the families of those who died in the incident. “This incident is not of a clash, but it is a massacre. We demand a judicial inquiry into the incident,” Kumar said, adding that the BJP government in the state cannot shun its responsibility by describing the incident as a fall out of a land dispute. He said the villagers had been demanding redressal of their problems but Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath overlooked it.
The Congress demanded an ex-gratia of Rs 25 lakh each to the families of the dead and Rs 15 to those injured along with land ‘pattas’. “The delegation found that when the land mafia were firing at the tribals, calls were made on the police helpline but they arrived late as part of a conspiracy,” he added.