Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and other party leaders were detained in Sitapur on Monday, October 4, 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. "Priyanka Gandhi, Deepender Singh Hooda and other leaders were detained in Sitapur around 5 am," Lallu said.
Nine people were reportedly 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. The Tikunia police in Lakhimpur Kheri lodged an FIR against Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Misra's son Ashish Mishra and 15 others for murder and inciting violence in Lakhimpur Kheri. The body of a local journalist Raman Kashyap, who had been missing after Sunday's violence, was found in the mortuary on Monday, taking the death toll to nine, including four farmers.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha claimed that Ashish Misra's vehicle ran over farmers who were protesting against Uttar Pardesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya's visit to a village in Lakhimpur Kheri. Ajay Misra and his son Ashish, however, claimed that protesters attacked the convoy and killed a driver and three others, including two BJP workers.
After the violence, when Priyanka Gandhi and a Congress delegation decided to visit Lakhimpur Kheri. Gandhi's convoy was 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. In a video, Priyanka Gandhi was heard questioning the Uttar Pradesh police for stopping her and telling them they could face action for manhandling and detaining her.
"I am not committing a crime by stepping out of the house. I just want to meet the affected families and share their grief. What wrong am I committing? And if I have done something wrong, then you (UP Police) should have an order, a warrant. You (UP Police) are stopping me, my car, but on what basis?" Priyanka asks in the video. The video also shows UP police trying to hold MP Deepinder Hooda, who tries to get away, saying he is an MP and that they cannot manhandle him.
ये रौद्र रूप है नारी का, दहन करेगी अहंकार।— Congress (@INCIndia) October 4, 2021
यूपी की सड़कें भाजपा के घटियापन की गवाह बनी है।@priyankagandhi जी और @DeependerSHooda जी के साथ भाजपा की गुलाम पुलिस का रवैया अमानवीयता की हद है।
किसान को न्याय तो हम दिलाकर रहेंगे।#PriyankaGandhiwithFarmers#लखीमपुर_किसान_नरसंहार pic.twitter.com/fwIfq1rn4f
As the cops try to detain Priyanka Gandhi, she says, “You cannot arrest me. Show me a warrant. I will file a complaint against you under charges for kidnapping. Produce a warrant or a legal order or else I am not moving out from here.”
In another video, she is heard telling the police, "There may not be any law in your Uttar Pradesh, but this country has laws."
"मैं उन किसानों से महत्वपूर्ण नहीं हूं, जिनको तुमने मारा है।"@priyankagandhi जी के ये भाव बता रहे हैं कि वो किस दर्द और पीड़ा के साथ किसानों से जुड़ी हुई है और रातभर सड़कों पर उतरी है।— Congress (@INCIndia) October 4, 2021
न्याय तो अब होकर रहेगा जोगी जी...#PriyankaGandhiwithFarmers#लखीमपुर_किसान_नरसंहार pic.twitter.com/nc45BN9D9S
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.
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.
Mobile internet services have been suspended in parts of the violence-hit Lakhimpur district, where restrictions under CrPC section 144 -- which prohibits assembly of four or more people -- has also been imposed, according to officials.
The UP Police took to Twitter early Monday to describe the incident as "unfortunate" and said eight casualties have been reported so far as per the district administration.
"ADG LO, ACS Agriculture, IG Range & Commissioner are on the spot & situation is under control. Adequate deployment has been done to prevent any untoward incident," it added.
(With agency inputs)