Lakhimpur Khedi violence: Priyanka Gandhi detained in Sitapur; mobile internet suspended in UP district

By PTI

LAKHIMPUR KHERI: Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and other party leaders were detained in Sitapur on Monday, 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.

Eight people were 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.

“Priyanka Gandhi, Deepender Singh Hooda and other leaders were detained in Sitapur around 5 am,” Lallu said.

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.

Gandhi’s convoy was earlier 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 here.

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.

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“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.

Meanwhile, security has been beefed up outside the residence of Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav, who had announced that he would visit Lakhimpur.

A large police force has been deployed on Vikramaditya Marg, and police trucks have been placed to block the entire road and restrict any possible movement.

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.

Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma on Sunday said those protesting in the guise of farmers against the Centre’s farm laws won’t be allowed to succeed.

Addressing a Kisan Panchayat at Tundla, which was organised by the Bhanu faction of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, Sharma said, “The real farmer is a citizen of the country and is ready to sacrifice his life for the country.”

“But those who are sitting in the opposition and are adamant on staging demonstrations bearing the tag of farmers will never succeed,” he said.

“Those disguising as farmers, participating in the protest over farm laws and joining hands with the opposition, will not be allowed to succeed,” he added.

Sharma also claimed that his party is working for the progress of every section of society, irrespective of caste and religion.

The 2022 UP Assembly elections will be fought on the agenda of development as the opposition does not have any issues, Sharma said.

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UP’s Agriculture Minister Surya Pratap Shahi said people working for farmers are being termed as anti-farmer by the opposition while those in whose regime farmers committed suicides are proclaiming themselves to be pro-farmer.

The Yogi government has also requested the Lucknow airport authority not to allow the arrival of the Chhattisgarh chief minister and the Punjab deputy CM.

“After the incident in Lakhimpur, the district magistrate has imposed prohibitory orders there to maintain law and order. It is requested that you should not allow Chhattisgarh CM and Punjab deputy CM at the CCS Airport in Lucknow,” Additional Chief Secretary, Home, Awanish Kumar Awasthi said in a letter dated October 3 to the Airport Authority of India (AAI).

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Monday attacked the Uttar Pradesh government, asking if civil rights had been suspended in the state.

“Uttar Pradesh government is issuing ‘farmaan (diktat)’ to me for not coming to the state. Have civil rights been suspended in UP? If section 144 is imposed in Lakhimpur, then why is the dictatorial government stopping me from landing in Lucknow,” Baghel asked in a tweet in Hindi.

He also attached Awasthi’s letter to the AAI.

Baghel and Punjab Deputy CM Sukhjinder S Randhawa had announced that they would visit Lakhimpur on Monday.