LUCKNOW – Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was stopped and detained in Uttar Pradesh on Friday on her way to a village in Sonbhadra where 10 people were killed in a shootout this week over a land dispute.
The Congress general secretary has targeted the state’s BJP government and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on what she calls rising crime and lawlessness in UP.
As she refused to move from the spot where her convoy was stopped, Priyanka Gandhi was detained and taken away in a government vehicle. “‘I don’t know where are they taking me, we are ready to go anywhere,’ she was quoted by the NDTV as saying.
Priyanka Gandhi, the Congress in-charge of eastern UP, was seen in earlier visuals sitting by the roadside in Mirzapur near Sonbhadra, surrounded by her security and Congress workers.
“I only want to meet the affected families, whose members have been mercilessly shot dead. A boy of my son’s age was shot at and is lying in hospital. Tell me on what legal basis I am stopped here,” Priyanka Gandhi told reporters.
Just before her visit, reports emerged that gatherings had been banned at Sonbhadra.
The Congress general secretary said she had been told she can’t drive from Varanasi to Sonbhadra. “I am sitting peacefully, can someone please show me the order,” she said.
Priyanka Gandhi had landed this morning at Varanasi, the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where she went to the hospital to visit those wounded in the Sonbhadra massacre.
Ten persons were killed and over 24 injured in the shooting which took place over a 36-acre piece of land between the Gujjar and Gond communities. A village chief, Yagya Dutt, and his associates fired on a group of tribal farmers. Witnesses said Yagya Dutt had brought nearly 200 men on 32 tractor trolleys to seize the land. After the tribals opposed, the men fired at them for over half-an-hour.
The tribals, who have tilled the land for generations, have been demanding titles for it. The main accused claimed he had bought the land 10 years ago from a prominent local family.
So far, 24 people have been arrested for the mass murder. Seventy-eight people have been charged, including Yagya Dutt and his brother.
The day the incident took place, Priyanka Gandhi had tweeted: “In the BJP ruled state, the confidence of criminals is so high that broad day-light killings are continuously happening. The killing of 9 Gond tribesmen, including 3 women, by the land mafia in Umbha village of Sonbhadra is heart-wrenching. Administration and Chief Minister are all sleeping. Is this how the state will become crime-free?”
Speaking on the incident today, Yogi Adityanath blamed the Congress. “The Congress governments in the past have provided protection to land mafias and the Sonbhadra incident is an example of that,” he said.