Hours after Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was detained and stopped from going to Sonbhadra where 10 people were gunned down this week, party workers on Friday evening alleged that the government guest house where she was putting up faced power outage. The Congress party workers, who were there with her in Chunnar, alleged that the district administration was doing it deliberately to force her to leave the place.
The workers were also heard shouting slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Yogi-Yogi Hai Hai, Modi-Modi Hai Hai, Yogi Sarkar Hosh Me Aao, Hatyari Sarkar Hosh Me Aao -- were some of the slogans shouted by Congress workers. They also shouted - Jo Sarkar Nikammi Hai, Wo Sarkar Badalni Hai."
Mirzapur: Congress workers allege deliberate power cut at Chunar Guest House by administration; say, "They want to trouble Priyanka Gandhi & Congress workers so that we leave the place. But we will spend the night here with candles & continue our protest." https://t.co/Ld4QBIlnFN— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) July 19, 2019
The detention of Priyanka Gandhi escalated the political slugfest over the killings there in a land dispute. Gandhi was taken to a guesthouse in Chunar in Mirzapur district after she squatted on the road with her supporters at Narainpur, insisting that she be allowed to proceed and meet the families of those killed on Wednesday.
The district magistrate and the superintendent of police were talking with her at the Chunar guesthouse to persuade her from travelling ahead, Deputy Inspector General Piyush Kumar Srivastava told news agency PTI.
But the standoff showed no sign of ending till late evening. Uttar Pradesh Congress Legislature Party leader Ajay Kumar Lallu, who was with her at the guesthouse, said: "We have clearly said, either let us meet the victims or send us to jail."
Rahul Gandhi, who has resigned as the Congress president, called the police action “illegal arrest”, but officials said she had been taken under “preventive detention”.
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. pic.twitter.com/D1rty8KJVq— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) July 19, 2019
“Action has been taken against 151 CrPC and Priyanka Gandhi and other members of the Congress have been stopped from proceeding to Sonbhadra, where prohibitory orders have been promulgated," Mirzapur District Magistrate Anurag Patel said.
“She will not be allowed to proceed for apprehension of breach of peace. If she decides to stay back here, we will extend security to her," the DM said.
As Congress leaders came out in the Gandhi's support and party workers held protests against the UP government, Trinamool Congress announced in New Delhi that it too planned to send a delegation to Sonbhadra on Saturday.
Earlier in the day, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath blamed the previous Congress governments for the land dispute, citing how the piece of land tilled by the villagers was bought and sold over the decades.
Promising justice, he announced in the state assembly that a sub-divisional magistrate and four policemen have been suspended. Twenty-nine people were arrested, he said.
Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati issued a statement, asking the state's BJP government to ensure justice for the Sonbhadra victims. But she blamed both the BJP and the Congress for “atrocities” on tribals in the past.
The party general secretary, who is in charge of eastern UP, had landed in Varanasi and met the injured at the BHU Trauma Centre, before beginning the road trip to Sonbhadra, about 80 km away.
Gandhi was stopped between at Narainpur on the Varanasi-Mirzapur road. She demanded to be shown the orders under which she was stopped.
"A boy of my son's age was shot at and is lying in hospital. Tell me on what legal basis have I been stopped here," she said.
When told about the prohibitory orders preventing the assembly of five or more people in the area, she said she will go to Sonbhadra with just a lesser number of supporters.
“I want to meet the victims... I only want to meet the affected families whose members were mercilessly shot dead," she said.
Meeting party workers at the Chunar guesthouse, she said, "I was told that there are orders from higher-ups but the order stopping me was not shown.” "I will not leave without meeting the victims and their families," she said.
"I have come here to tell the country what is happening in this state," she added.
On Twitter, she said, "It is the duty of the UP government to arrest the criminals. My duty is to stand with the oppressed.?
“BJP has failed to control crime but is stopping me from discharging my duty. No one can stop me from standing in support of the victims. Please stop crime.”
उत्तर प्रदेश सरकार की ड्यूटी है अपराधियों को पकड़ना।— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) July 19, 2019
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!
Ten people were killed and 28 injured in the clash between supporters of a village headman, Yagya Dutt, and the Gond tribals in Sonbhadra's Ghorawal area on Wednesday.
Dutt's supporters allegedly opened fire on the tribals. A committee under the additional chief secretary (Revenue) has also been constituted and will give its report within 10 days, Adityanath said in a statement in the assembly.
Terming the action against his sister "illegal arrest", Rahul Gandhi said, "This arbitrary application of power reveals the BJP government's increasing insecurity in UP."
Congress general secretary in-charge Uttar Pradesh-West Jyotiraditya Scindia said the action was "open disrespect" of democracy.
"Meeting families of victims and expressing condolences is the responsibility of public representatives. The government has attempted to crush democracy which is highly condemnable," he said in a tweet in Hindi.
"By arresting Priyanka Gandhi, keeping her in Chunar, will the UP government be able to cover up the killing of 10 people of a tribal family in Sonbhadra?" Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala asked in a tweet in Hindi.
Asked to comment, UP Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma told reporters, "Whether it is the ruling party or the opposition, everyone's collective responsibility is to ensure that the situation does not aggravate further."
“The opposition should help the government in building bonhomie among the people," he told reporters.
(With PTI inputs)