Bracing power cuts and almost a 24-hour-long so-called detention in Uttar Pradesh's nondescript Mirzapur district, Priyanka Gandhi finally managed to meet the family members of those killed in the Sonbhadra clashes of 17 July.
Priyanka, who was stopped by the authorities from reaching Sonbhadra on Friday morning, dug her heels in and sat on a dharna on the road where her entourage was stopped. She was later briefly detained and escorted to a guest house facility in the Chunar town of Mirzapur district, where she spent the night and most of today until she was allowed to meet the family members of the Sonbhadra victims. After claiming that her objective to meet the families was served, Priyanka is now set to return home in Delhi with a promise of returning soon.
"I'll be back," she said was quoted by media outside the guest house in Mirzapur, where she was put up by the police on Friday.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra,Congress:My objective has been served as I have met them (victim of Sonbhadra firing).I am still under detention, let's see what the administration says. Congress party will give a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the kin of the person who died in the incident. pic.twitter.com/4SUaPEVmsz
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) July 20, 2019
"My objective has been served as I have met them (victims of Sonbhadra firing). I am still under detention, let's see what the administration says," Priyanka told reporters.
However, the authorities later clarified that the Congress general secretary for eastern Uttar Pradesh was only stopped from entering Sonbhadra. Anurag Patel, DM Mirzapur, said that the Congress leader was free to "visit any place except Sonbhadra", where ten people were shot dead earlier this week during a clash over a land dispute.
Earlier in morning, Priyanka had tried to move out of the guest house, saying she would not leave without meeting the victims, but was stopped by the police. However, when the family members of the firing incident victims arrived on their own, the police finally allowed them to enter the guest house after some initial resistance.
Initially, reports said, only three of the 15 people were allowed to meet Priyanka while others were stopped at the guest house's gate. Priyanka, visibly upset over this development, criticised the Yogi Adityanath government in harsh words and urged media persons to put pressure on the administration to let the people meet her.
"The families of those who were killed and injured have come from Sonbhadra to meet me on their own. Two relatives of the victims have come here to meet me but 15 others are not allowed to meet me, are being stopped. Even I am not allowed to meet them. I do not understand what the Uttar Pradesh government and police administration want," she said while speaking to media persons.
She further said, "Bhagwan jane inki mansikta kya hai? Aap thoda dabav banayiya, unhe aana dijiye. Aap yahan mere pichhe pade hain." (God knows what their thought process is? You please put pressure, let them (kin of victims) come. They are after me."
Taking a jibe at the Uttar Pradesh government, Priyanka said, "The responsibility for the Sonbhadra massacre is with the Yogi government and not with Nehru. She also said that the Congress will give a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the affected families in the firing.
She also made five demands to the ruling government: A compensation of 25 lakh for the kin of the deceased, fast track court for trial in Sonbhadra case, land titles for the tribals, security for the affected families, and withdrawal of case against the villagers in the last few years over land dispute.
After speaking to the victims' family at length, Priyanka claimed that the whole episode reeked of a conspiracy where district authorities appear to be complicit. She said that the villagers told her that
On Friday, the Congress general secretary for Uttar Pradesh East was prevented by the police to meet the families and was taken to a guest house in Mirzapur. In a series of late-night tweets, Priyanka said senior police and government officials had come to meet her around midnight and asked her to leave.
"I told them clearly that I did not come here to break any laws but came only to meet the affected families. I have told them I won't go without meeting the affected families," she had tweeted.
Earlier on Saturday, a parliamentary delegation of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) led by party spokesperson Derek O' Brien, which was on its way to Sonbhadra to meet the families was stopped at the Varanasi airport. A delegation of Congress members coming to meet Priyanka and the Sonbhadra victims were also stopped at the city airport.
In a video message, the TMC leader said that police has detained the delegation and was not allowing them to meet the Sonbhadra firing incident victims. However, later, the delegation was finally allowed to meet the injured in the BHU trauma centre.
Extending support to victims' families, BSP supremo Mayawati had asked party Assembly members to provide all possible aid to them. A delegation led by Congress leader Pramod Tiwari met state Governor Ram Naik over firing incident.
On Friday, Priyanka was detained on her way to meet the kin of those killed in the 17 July Sonbhadra firing incident citing imposition of Section 144 in the area. She was escorted to Mirzapur by Uttar Pradesh Police from Vanaras. She spent a night at the guest house.
Priyanka throughout her protest had maintained that she would not leave unless she is permitted to meet Sonbhadra victims' families. She even asked the police to allow her to visit the district with two persons as that would not violate Section 144 imposed there, which restrict the movement of more than four persons in an area.
The Sonbhadra firing incident took place in Ubbha village of Ghorawal where the village head went to take possession of his land purchased two years ago. However, he met with opposition from the villagers which triggered the firing allegedly by his aides leading to 10 deaths.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Jul 20, 2019 16:59:41 IST