The Uttar Pradesh government formally arrested Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rajya Sabha member Deepender Hooda along with nine other colleagues on Tuesday for ‘breaching’ prohibitory orders in attempting to reach Lakhimpur Kheri .
The Congress and its allies meanwhile indicated joint Opposition action against the State government’s “oppression” after Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut met former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to discuss the Lakhimpur Kheri incident.
Mr Gandhi will address a press conference on Wednesday morning and is expected to head for Lakhimpur Kheri soon after.
In a statement, Ms. Vadra questioned the legality of her “continuing confinement” and said she had neither been served any notice nor given a copy of the first information report (FIR) which has been circulated on social media.
“I have myself seen a portion of a paper on social media in which they have named 11 people — 8 of whom were not even present at the time I was arrested... I have not been produced in front of a magistrate or any other judicial officer either. I have also not been allowed to meet my legal counsel who has been standing at the gate since morning,” the Congress leader said in a statement.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar compared the Lakhimpur Kheri incident with the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy while Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said there was a discussion on sending an Opposition delegation to Lakhimpur.
After his meeting with Mr. Gandhi, the Sena MP also told reporters that the former Congress chief stressed on “the need for Opposition parties come together to save democracy”.
“The Uttar Pradesh government has created a situation similar to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and it will have to pay its price one day… This government cannot succeed by strangling voices of the farmers. You [BJP government in U.P. and Centre] will get a fitting response not only from the farmers in Uttar Pradesh but from all over the country,” Mr. Pawar, a former Union Agriculture Minister, told reporters.
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi too shared Mr Pawar’s sentiments and compared the incident to .Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
Earlier in the day, Ms. Vadra shared a 25-second video of Sunday’s incident at Lakhimpuri Kheri and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi why he had not sacked Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’ nor arrested his son, who has been named as an accused
“You have arrested Opposition leaders like me without any order or warrant. I want to know why this man is still free,” she asked.
Soon after this, the U.P. government registered cases against her, Mr. Hooda and 9 others under section 151 and other relevant sections of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) dealing with preventive detention due to apprehension of breach of peace.
Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, in a statement, said facts and circumstances of Ms Vadra’s arrest “conclusively establish that there is no rule of law in U.P.”
“Law and Order in U.P. seem to mean Mr. Adityanath's law and Mr Adityanath's order,”.he said, adding, “The sections of law under which Congress GS Priyanka Vadra has been reportedly charged are laughable. Section151 CrPC contains no offence at all. It is a provision for arrest for a period not exceeding 24 hours. No person can be 'charged' under S. 151”.