Lucknow: As the murder of ten people over a land dispute in Sonbhadra in eastern Uttar Pradesh turns into a new political battle-ground, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra met some family members of those killed Saturday morning.
The meeting took place at Chunar guesthouse in Mirzapur district where Vadra spent the night, allegedly with no electricity. The evening before, she had been refused permission by local authorities from visiting the scene of the crime in Ghorawal area of neighbouring Sonbhadra district.
“They have come here with great difficulty. At least let me meet them. God knows what the administration’s mentality is. Such a big tragedy has happened to them, people have been murdered, people from their family have been murdered and they are being stopped. All workers have been coming here since yesterday but they are not being stopped. What crime have these people committed?” Vadra told reporters on Saturday morning prior to her meeting.
Barely an hour later, she was sitting on the ground with three members of the victims’ families, holding their hands, hugging and consoling them.
“We are with them. I want to tell the government and the administration that injustice has been done to these people. Please investigate the possibility of your own people being a part of this injustice. These people are saying that some are involved. I believe them. If this is the case, take action,” she said.
“I want to tell the entire country that I stand with them…leave politics aside, I stand with them because they have suffered injustice,” she added.
Opposition leaders detained at Varanasi airport
Meanwhile, at Varanasi airport, several Opposition leaders were detained and refused permission to go to Mirzapur. These included Congress leaders Deepinder Hooda, Raj Babbar, Jitin Prasada and Trinamool leader Derek O’Brien.
Vadra said she agreed with the demands made by the aggrieved families. These included Rs 25 lakh compensation for every family killed or injured, ownership rights for those tilling the land for many generations, cases to be heard on a fast-track basis, false cases withdrawn, and security to those who have stepped forward to protest.
UP director General of police O.P. Singh said Section 144 (unlawful assembly) had been imposed on Sonbhadra, which is why the Congress leader had been stopped.
At the Chunar guesthouse, rejuvenated Congress workers protested loudly.
Priyanka’s brother and Congress president Rahul Gandhi Friday had attacked the BJP on Twitter, “The illegal arrest of Priyanka in Sonbhadra, UP, is disturbing. This arbitrary application of power, to prevent her from meeting families of the 10 Adivasi farmers brutally gunned down for refusing to vacate their own land, reveals the BJP Govt’s increasing insecurity in UP.”
Congress readers protested Yogi Adityanath government’s decision not to allow the families of victims from meeting Vadra, saying they had undertaken great hardship by walking 70 km (and another 20 km on tractors) to meet her.
“The administration should have protected them. They should have been provided security. When this hadsa (accident) was taking place, help should have been given to them. Nothing was done. Now, they have come here to meet me but they are not being allowed to meet me,” Vadra said earlier Friday.
Adityanath suspended 5 police officials
UP Chief Minister Adityanath had suspended five officials Friday, including an SDM and a DSP-rank officer, and ordered two inquiries into the incident.
The CM had also alleged that the basis of the incident had been laid under the former Congress governments, which date back to 1955 when the disputed village land had been transferred illegally and in 1989 when the same land was sold to individuals from Adarsh Society.
UP CM’s comments had led to protests in the UP Assembly by the opposition with some even demanding the resignation of the CM on the issue.