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Priyanka Gandhi detained, political slugfest erupts over Sonbhadra violence

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra wanted to meet the families of the deceased who were killed in the land dispute in Sonbhadra. She was detained in Chunar.

Updated: Jul 20, 2019 02:39:20

By Sudhir Kumar, Hindustan Times, Varanasi

Priyanka Gandhi, Congress general secretary, was detained in Chunar when she wanted to meet the kin of the deceased in Sonbhadra land dispute case in Uttar Pradesh. (AFP)

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was on Friday detained by police when she was on her way to meet the families of those killed in a land dispute in Sonbhadra, even as a political blame-game over the incident played out with the Samajwadi Party and the Congress blaming the state’s Bharatiya Janata Party government, the chief minister blaming the Congress, and the Bahujan Samaj party blaming both the Congress and the BJP.

Priyanka Gandhi was detained in Chunar town in the state, around 65 km from the site of Wednesday’s massacre when a village head and his supporters allegedly opened fire on a rival group over a land dispute in Umbha village killing 10 people, including three women, and leaving 19 injured. All the dead belong to the Gond tribe.

“I will not go back without meeting the families of those killed in the firing , which has exposed the failure of the Uttar Pradesh government. The government is protecting ‘bhu mafias’ (land sharks) and oppressing the poor,” Priyanka Gandhi, the party’s general secretary told party workers at Chunar fort, where she was taken after being detained near Narayanpur police outpost in Mirzapur.

Later in the day, she tweeted, “I have been arrested by UP administration. Administration is saying that I have to give a bond of ~50,000 for bail or else I would be sent to jail for 14 days. But they would not let me go to Sonbhadra because they have such orders.”

“I want to meet families of the victims. If administration wishes, I am ready to go alone with them to the village. I have not violated any law. I have not committed any offence. In this regard, I consider bail unethical. I am not ready to give bond for the bail. my demand is clear that I want to meet families of the victims,” Priyanka Gandhi’s tweet said.

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath promised justice to the tribespeople and said the sub-divisional magistrate and four other officials were suspended over the shooting.

He also blamed the Congress for the land dispute, which led to the carnage. In a statement in the Uttar Pradesh assembly, he claimed the seeds of dispute were sown in 1955 when the Congress was in power. “The Congress governments in the past have provided protection to land mafias and the Sonbhadra incident is an example of that,” he said, adding that the report of the probe ordered by him clearly states that the lingering land dispute was responsible for the violence.

In the UP assembly, Samajwadi Party (SP) legislators barged into the well of the house, carrying placards with anti-government slogans.

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, in a tweet, blamed both the Congress and the BJP and said that both are responsible for the plight of tribespeople. She also accused the Congress of pushing many tribespeople into Naxalism.

Reacting to his sister’s detention, Congress leader Rahul Ganhi tweeted: “The illegal ‘arrest’ of Priyanka in ‘Sonbhadra’, UP, is disturbing. This arbitrary application of power, to prevent her from meeting families of the 10 Adivasi farmers brutally gunned down for refusing to vacate their own land, reveals the BJP Govt’s increasing insecurity in UP.”


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