Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi remained in detention on Saturday as she refused to fill the bail bond, 19 hours after she was driven to a guest house after she insisted on proceeding to Sonbhadra district in Uttar Pradesh where 10 people were killed in clashes over a land dispute on Wednesday.
After being stopped at Narayanpur, Gandhi on Friday said that she will continue to sit there peacefully while adding that the administration did allow her to move ahead even when she said she would take only four people along with her.
As she refused to move from the spot where her convoy was stopped, Priyanka Gandhi was taken away in a government vehicle.
Section 144 was imposed in Sonbhadra, which prohibits the assembly of more than four people in the area.
Priyanka was seen in visuals, sitting by the roadside in Mirzapur near Sonbhadra, surrounded by her security and Congress workers.
Late on Friday, some government officials had arrived at the Chunar guest house to ask the Congress leader to return to Delhi. However, she remained adamant.
“The Uttar Pradesh government has sent ADG Varanasi Brij Bhushan, Varanasi Commissioner Deepak Agarwal, Commissioner Mirzapur and DIG Mirzapur to tell me that I should return without meeting the victims’ families. They have not given me any reason or documents for detaining me,” Gandhi said in a tweet.
“I have made it clear to them that I have not come here to break any law but to meet the families and I won’t return without meeting them,” she said.
The officials then left the guest house shortly after midnight.
Earlier on Friday, Priyanka Gandhi refused to fill the bail bond of Rs 50,000.
“I have not done anything wrong and so I will not fill the bail bond. District administration and the government is free to send me to jail if they want,” she said.
She has said that the administration informed her that she was detained under section 107/116 of the CrPC.
She also described the killings of the members of the Gond tribe as “massacre”.
The Congress leader arrived in Varanasi, the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, early on Friday and then went on to meet the injured persons admitted to the Trauma Centre of the Banaras Hindu University.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi termed his sister’s “illegal arrest” as “disturbing”.
Taking to Twitter, he said, “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”.
Senior Congress leader and former member of Lok Sabha, Sunil Jakhar too slammed the BJP-led Uttar Pradesh government for detaining Priyanka.
He said that Gandhi was scheduled to visit the place of the incident where 10 people were killed in the firing and 19 were injured. He added that she only wanted to meet the affected families, whose members have been mercilessly shot dead and a boy who was also shot at and is lying in the hospital.
“Is it an offence to share the grief of the families who lost their members due to atrocities that lit large in the state ruled by the BJP headed by Yogi Adityanath?” Jakhar asked.
By preventing Gandhi from meeting the affected families to convey condolence and express solidarity, BJP has once again exposed its fears that haunt the saffron party over people-centric activities of Gandhi family, he said.
A total of 29 people including the village chief have been arrested till now in the case. A case has been registered against 78 people.
At least 10 people, including three women, died and over 24 were injured in a clash between Gond and Gujjar communities over a land dispute in Sonbhadra district on Wednesday.
According to reports, quoted by IANS, the village head and the main accused in the massacre, Yagya Dutt, had brought about 200 men on 32 tractor trolleys to take possession of the disputed land.
After the tribals who were tilling the land, opposed his attempt to take possession of the land, Yagya Dutt’s men fired at them for over half-an-hour.