New Delhi: Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was on Friday detained and stopped from going to Sonbhadra district in Uttar Pradesh where 10 people were gunned a few days ago.
Gandhi refused to furnish a personal bond and stayed put at a guesthouse in Mirzapur district where she was taken after she squatted on the road with her supporters, insisting she be allowed to proceed and meet the victims’ families.
Deputy Inspector General Piyush Kumar Srivastava said that the district magistrate and the superintendent of police were in contact with Gandhi at the guesthouse in Chunar to persuade her against travelling ahead.
The standoff showed no sign of ending till late on Friday night.
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.”
In a series of tweets on Friday night, Gandhi reiterated her demands and said she would not change her decision to meet the affected villagers.
“I have been arrested by the Uttar Pradesh administration for the last nine hours and kept in Chunar fort. The administration says I have to furnish bail of Rs 50,000, else I will be sentenced to jail for 14 days, but they will not let me go to Sonbhadra as these are ‘orders from above’,” she said in a tweet in Hindi.
उत्तर प्रदेश प्रशासन द्वारा मुझे पिछले 9 घंटे से गिरफ़्तार करके चुनार किले में रखा हुआ है। प्रशासन कह रहा है कि मुझे 50,000 की जमानत देनी है अन्यथा मुझे 14 दिन के लिए जेल की सज़ा दी जाएगी, मगर वे मुझे सोनभद्र नहीं जाने देंगे ऐसा उन्हें ‘ऊपर से ऑर्डर है’।
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) July 19, 2019
Gandhi said she considered paying bail immoral in this situation. “If the government wants to put me in jail for the crime of meeting victims, I am totally prepared for that,” she said.
In another tweet, Gandhi said she has not broken any laws or committed any crimes, adding that she had already said earlier she would visit Sonabhadra whichever way the administration allowed. “Despite this, the UP government created this spectacle,” she added.
Chunar Sub-Divisional Magistrate Satya Prakash said Gandhi was under preventive detention and had refused to furnish a personal bond.
“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,” said Mirzapur District Magistrate Anurag Patel.
“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 added.
Hours earlier, the Congress leader who is in charge of eastern UP had met some of the injured at the BHU Trauma Centre in Varanasi, 60 km from Sonbhadra. She was stopped at Narainpur on the Varanasi-Mirzapur road while she was heading towards Sonbhadra.
Rahul Gandhi, who has resigned as the Congress president, called the police action an illegal arrest.
As Congress leaders came out in support and party workers held protests against the UP government, the Trinamool Congress announced it would send a four-member delegation headed by Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien to Sonbhadra on Saturday.
The Congress has also asked its workers to lead dharnas in all states to protest against the detention.
Jyotiraditya Scindia, Congress general secretary in-charge of UP West, said the detention 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 spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, in a tweet, asked if the UP government would be able to cover up the killings of 10 tribals by arresting Gandhi and keeping her in Chunar.
UP Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma said that it everyone’s collective responsibility to ensure that the situation does not aggravate further, be it the ruling party or the opposition. “The opposition should help the government in building bonhomie among the people,” he added.
(With inputs from PTI)
‘If Govt Wants to Jail Us for Meeting Victims, I’m Ready’: Priyanka Gandhi Draws Battle Lines in Mirzapur – News18