Rahul, Priyanka meet families of farmers killed in Lakhimpur Kheri

Congress leaders with CMs Charanjit Singh Channi and Bhupesh Baghel reached Lakhimpur after dramatic dharna at Lucknow airport

Updated - October 07, 2021 01:03 am IST

Published - October 06, 2021 06:44 pm IST - Lucknow

Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra meet family members of slain farmer Lavpreet Singh in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 6, 2021.

Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra meet family members of slain farmer Lavpreet Singh in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 6, 2021.

After staging a brief and dramatic sit-in at Lucknow airport, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi along with the Chief Ministers of Punjab and Chhattisgarh — Charanjit Singh Channi and Bhupesh Baghel — and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra reached Palia village in Lakhimpur late on Wednesday where they met the family of Lovepreet Singh, one of the farmers killed on October 3.

After landing at the Lucknow airport, Mr. Gandhi and the other senior Congress leaders staged a brief dharna when police told them to use a police vehicle instead of their own to travel to Lakhimpur. Mr. Gandhi, however, insisted that he would travel in his own car. The police officers told him they wanted him to take the police vehicle for convenience, to avoid traffic jams and security reasons, an argument he rejected by saying that he was used to traffic.

Also Read: Dictatorship in India; new kind of politics in Uttar Pradesh: Rahul Gandhi

“Under which rule are you deciding how I will go? Which rule in India says you will ask a citizen to go to Uttar Pradesh from this route? Let me go in my car,” Mr. Gandhi said. Later, while talking to reporters, he accused the State government of being up to “some mischief.”

Mr. Gandhi again hit out at the Yogi Adityanath government and questioned the reliability of the permission granted to Opposition leaders to visit the affected district after denying them entry since Sunday. In a video that emerged from the airport, Mr. Gandhi was seen complaining that he was not being allowed to exit the Chaudhary Charan Singh Airport as a group of CRPF personnel were seen preventing his movement, despite permission been granted by the government.

The Congress leaders were allowed to travel to Kheri only after all four farmers out of the eight total dead were cremated and police allowed people to travel there in groups of five.

Also Read: Needless escalation: On Lakhimpur Kheri violence

ADG Law and Order Prashant Kumar said they did not allow anyone to travel to the affected areas earlier due to law and order situation. “All restrictions were put to maintain peace,” said Mr Kumar.

Mr. Gandhi then drove to Sitapur where Ms Vadra has been lodged in detention at the PAC guesthouse since Monday after police prevented her from reaching Lakhimpur Kheri. After Ms. Vadra was released from detention, the two leaders travelled in the same vehicle after meeting Congress workers

‘Under dictatorship’

Earlier in the day, before heading for Lucknow. Mr Gandhi told reporters in Delhi that a “dictatorship” prevails in the country where the farmers are being systematically attacked and Opposition leaders are not allowed to visit Uttar Pradesh to meet families hit by the violence.

Also Read: Family of farmer killed in Lakhimpur violence says second autopsy also doesn't mention bullet injury

“There used to be democracy here, but there is a dictatorship in India now. Politicians cannot go to Uttar Pradesh. We are being told since yesterday that we cannot go to Uttar Pradesh,” Mr Gandhi, who was flanked by Mr Baghel and Mr. Channi, said.

Asked about the detention of his sister, Ms. Vadra, at Sitapur and reports of her being ‘manhandled’, he said the issue was about farmers and not her.

“Whether it is Priyanka or me or some other member — we are not bothered by manhandling. You can hit us, attack us but we are talking about farmers. It is the training that we have learnt from our family,” he noted.

Senior party leaders, Kapil Sibal and Vivek Tankhacalled Ms. Vadra’s “arrest and continued detention as illegal” in a letter to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a copy of which also marked to the Prime Minister.

Separately, the governments of Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh and Punjab also announced compensation of ₹ 50 lakh each for the families of the farmers who were killed in the violence as well as the kin of scribe Raman Kashyap.

(With inputs from Sandeep Phukan)

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