Lucknow/Lakhimpur Kheri: Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and other party leaders were detained in Sitapur on Monday, with the party alleging they were not allowed to meet the victims of the violence that erupted during a farmers’ protest in Lakhimpur Kheri a day earlier.
Stopping them in such a way is “undemocratic”, Congress state President Ajay Kumar Lallu told PTI.
Eight people were killed on Sunday as violence erupted during a farmers’ protest, claiming the lives of both farmers and BJP workers ahead of a visit to Lakhimpur by Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya.
“Priyanka Gandhi, Deepender Singh Hooda and other leaders were detained in Sitapur around 5 am,” Lallu said.
The Congress leaders had to take alternative routes to reach the bordering Hargaon area in Sitapur as heavy security was deployed on the main roads amid tension in the violence-hit region of Lakhimpur.
“We are waiting outside Lakhimpur Kheri. We have been prevented by the police from entering. We have come here to meet the victims of the violence,” Congress national secretary Dheeraj Gurjar told PTI over the phone at 4.30 am.
Gandhi’s convoy was earlier briefly stopped by Uttar Pradesh Police officials in Lucknow, where the Congress general secretary had arrived on Sunday night, within a few hours of violence being reported during an anti-farm laws protest here.
Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav was also detained on Monday as he sat on a dharna outside his Vikramaditya Marg residence in Lucknow after he was not allowed to go to Lakhimpur.
The SP chief had announced plans to visit Lakhimpur Kheri, where eight people were killed on Sunday as violence erupted during a farmers’ protest ahead of a visit by Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya.
On Monday morning, security was beefed up outside his home and police trucks placed to block the road and restrict any movement, following which he sat on the dharna with party leaders Ram Gopal Yadav, MLC Anand Bhadauria and others.
Hundreds of party workers also gathered outside the house, and a heavy police force was deployed in the area.
“Vehicles are being run over those who raise their voices. We want the arrest of the minister and his son in the Lakhimpur incident,” Akhilesh Yadav told reporters here.
A police jeep parked in front of the Gautam Palli police station near the place where Akhilesh Yadav sat on a dharna was set on fire allegedly by party workers.
SP leaders, however, claimed that the police torched their own vehicle.
Demanding a judicial probe in the violence, BSP supremo Mayawati said her party’s national general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra was stopped in Lucknow to prevent him from reaching Lakhimpur.
“BSP’s national general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP S C Mishra was placed under house arrest late last night at his residence in Lucknow. It is continuing so that the party delegation under his leadership cannot reach Lakhimpur Kheri to get the correct report of the violence. This is very sad and deplorable,” Mayawati said in a tweet in Hindi.
“Due to the involvement of two BJP ministers in the Kheri case, a proper government investigation of this incident, justice to the victims and strict punishment to the guilty does not seem possible. Therefore, this incident in which eight people have been confirmed dead so far requires a judicial inquiry. This is the demand of the BSP,” she said.