Priyanka stopped on way to Sonbhadra, Rahul fumes

Rahul Gandhi alleged Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra had been ‘illegally’ arrested, that the Uttar Pradesh government was attempting to crush democracy

Lucknow/New Delhi: Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra was on Friday stopped from going to Sonbhadra where 10 people were gunned down this week and taken to a guesthouse after she squatted on the road with her supporters insisting that she be allowed to proceed.

The Sonbhadra shootout acquired a sharp political edge with Congress leaders, including former party president Rahul Gandhi, alleging Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra had been “illegally” arrested and the Uttar Pradesh government was attempting to crush democracy.

As the issue snowballed, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath promised justice and said the sub-divisional magistrate and four other officials were suspended.

Besides, 29 people, including the village headman Yagya Dutt and his brother, were arrested. 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.

Ten people were killed and 18 injured in the clash between supporters of the village head and Gond tribals over a piece of land in Sonbhadra’s Ghorawal area on Wednesday. Dutt’s supporters allegedly opened fire on the tribals.

Priyanka Gandhi, who landed in Varanasi and met the injured at the BHU Trauma Centre, was stopped in Narainpur while she was on her way to Sonbhadra. She was taken to the Chunar guesthouse nearby after she sat on ‘dharna’.

Priyanka Gandhi and other members of the Congress were stopped at Narainpur while they were on their way to Sonbhadra and sat there on ‘dharna’, Deputy Inspector General Piyush Kumar Srivastava said.

They were pacified after some time and were taken to the Chunar guesthouse, the police station in-charge of Narainpur added.

An agitated Priyanka Gandhi, the party’s general secretary UP (East), said she only wanted to meet the affected families. “A boy of my son’s age was shot at and is lying in a hospital. Tell me on what legal basis have I been stopped here,” she said, adding, “I can move ahead only with four people. I want to meet the victims… I only want to meet the affected families, whose members have been mercilessly shot dead.”

Congress leader Ajai Rai from the area said she was stopped on the Varanasi-Mirzapur border while on her way to Sonbhadra and was taken into police custody along with other Congress leaders and workers.

Rahul livid on hearing of Priyanka Vadra’s detention

Back in Delhi, former party chief Rahul Gandhi termed the action against his sister “illegal arrest”. “This arbitrary application of power reveals the BJP government’s increasing insecurity in UP,” he said.

“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.

Rahul Gandhi on Friday hit out the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh for the “illegal arrest” of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Sonbhadra, saying this “arbitrary application of power” to stop her from meeting those injured in a clash reveals the BJP dispensation’s increasing insecurity in the state.

The Congress claimed that Priyanka Gandhi had been taken into police custody. “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,” Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet.

Other senior Congress leaders criticised the Uttar Pradesh government over the incident, too, and described the action as “crushing of democracy”.

Congress general secretary in-charge Uttar Pradesh West Jyotiraditya Scindia hit out at the Adityanath government for stopping Priyanka Gandhi from proceeding to Sonbhadra, saying 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.

Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also lashed out at the government over the incident, saying the BJP dispensation has made Uttar Pradesh “apraadh pradesh” (crime state).

“By arresting Priyanka Gandhi, keeping her in Chunar (guesthouse), will the UP government be able to cover up the killing of 10 people of a tribal family in Sonbhadra?” he asked in a tweet in Hindi.

On Wednesday, a village head and his supporters allegedly opened fire on a rival group in a land dispute in Sonbhadra killing 10 people, including three women, and leaving several injured.