High political drama is unfolding at Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri, where eight people were killed in violence during a farmers’ protest. Congress MP Priyanka Gandhi claimed she was still in “unlawful custody”, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel sat on a dharna at Lucknow airport, while TMC MPs claimed they snuck into the region dressed as tourists. At the same time, the Uttar Pradesh government has denied permission to a Congress delegation led by Rahul Gandhi to visit Lakhimpur area in the wake of Sec 144 that has been imposed. Rahul had said he planned to express condolences to the bereaved families and to ascertain the facts first hand.
Baghel was prevented from coming out of Lucknow airport on Tuesday when he arrived to meet party leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who was detained in Sitapur on her way to Lakhimpur Kheri. Baghel staged a sit-in at the airport after being stopped by the police from stepping out. “Why am I being stopped? I am not going to Lakhimpur where prohibitory orders are in place. I am only going to the Uttar pradesh Congress office,” he told police. Holding a virtual press conference from the airport, he said, “The truth of Lakhimpur will come to light one day, it cannot be kept hidden forever. Those who speak in a language warning the farmers to mend their ways will have to be dismissed, and his son, who trampled the farmers, will have to go behind the bars.”
At the same time, a delegation of TMC MPs on Tuesday met families of farmers killed in the Lakhimpur violence, claiming that they dodged policemen by posing as tourists. The TMC delegation comprised MPs Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Sushmita Dev, Abir Ranjan Biswas, Pratima Mondal and Dola Sen. While on their way, the UP Police tried to stop them, the TMC leaders claimed in a statement. They posed as tourists on being stopped by police, claimed the MPs of the Mamata Banerjee-led party. Dola Sen said they were trying to reach Lakhimpur Kheri since Sunday and they could reach there two days later. Dastidar and Dev went to Palia tehsil of the district to meet the kin of Lavpreet Singh (19) while others travelled to Dhaurahra tehsil to meet relatives of Nachatar Singh.
Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh Police on Tuesday had booked Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and 10 others over apprehensions of breach of peace as opposition leaders attacked the BJP and the UP government on her detention in UP’s Sitapur. Senior party leader P. Chidambaram, Chattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut expressed support to Priyanka, who has alleged that no notice or FIR has been given to her even after her 38-hour detention and was not allowed to meet her legal counsel. ajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Tuesday condemned the Uttar Pradesh government for keeping AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Congress MP Deepender Hooda under detention for 36 hours. Gehlot condemned Gandhi’s detention, accusing the Yogi Adityanath government of permitting other parties’ delegations to visit Lakhimpur Kheri.