Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has been arrested from Hargaon in Uttar Pradesh’s Sitapur district while she was on her way to Lakhimpur Kheri where violence had claimed eight lives on Sunday.
Other opposition leaders are also being stopped from proceeding towards Lakhimpur Kheri after Sunday’s incident, where the death toll has gone up to eight.
Priyanka Gandhi’s convoy was stopped in Lucknow and the police surrounded the Kaul House where she stays during her Lucknow visits.
However, Priyanka managed to hoodwink the cops and walked out of her residence form the side gate and after a short distance, she got into a waiting car and left for Lakhimpur Kheri with Congress leader Deependra Singh Hooda at the wheel.
As soon as Priyanka reached Hargaon in Sitapur district around 6.a.m on Monday, she was stopped. After a minor scuffle with women constable, Priyanka demanded to see her arrest warrant. The police personnel took her into custody and she was taken to the PAC office in the district.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said, “I am not committing a crime by stepping out of the house. I just want to meet the affected families and share their grief. What wrong am I committing? And if I have done something wrong, then you (UP Police) should have an order, a warrant. You (UP Police) are stopping me, my car, but for what reason?”
Congress leaders who were accompanying Priyanka created a ruckus and staged a dharna to protest against her arrest.
UPCC president Ajay Kumar Lallu said that the arrest of Priyanka proved again that there was no democracy left in the political system.
“We are well within out rights to protest and we are not going to be cowed down by such repressive measures,” he said.
The death toll in Sunday’s violence has gone up to eight and the BJP claimed that the deceased included one driver and three BJP workers.
Bahujan Samaj Party MP Satish Chandra Mishra was not allowed to move out of his house in Lucknow at 3 a.m. when he tried to move towards Lakhimpur Kheri. Mishra demanded a written order which prevents him from moving out of his house.
The BSP general secretary, said, “We want to visit Lakhimpur Kheri. We are not being allowed to move citing law and order disturbance there. We demand written order if they want to house arrest us.”
The Uttar Pradesh police tweeted that the situation in Lakhimpur Kheri was under control and adequate deployment of forces had been done to prevent any ‘untoward incident’.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said in a statement issued late on Sunday night that he was ‘saddened’ by the violence in his state that left eight people, including four farmers, dead.
He promised strict action against those responsible following an investigation and made an appeal to maintain peace.
BKU leader Rakesh Tikait’s convoy was also stopped on its way to Lakhimpur Kheri. He had reached Puranpur in Pilibhit district.
Tikait said that he will hold a press conference later in the day.
He said BKU would stage demonstrations at all district headquarters on Monday to protest against the Sunday’s incidents.
Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Ravan’s convoy was stopped near Khairabad in Sitapur. He has been detained at Sitapur police line.
Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjay Singh was stopped in Sitapur on his way to Lakhimpur Kheri on the intervening night of Sunday and Monday. He was stopped during checking of vehicles in Laharpur area of the district.
Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Jayant Chaudhary and former minister, Om Prakash Rajbhar, are scheduled to leave for Lakhimpur Kheri on Monday. A heavy police force has been deployed outside their respective residences.
A senior police official, who spoke to IANS on condition of anonymity, said, “We are not going to allow any political leader to go to Lakhimpur Kheri and worsen the situation. We are trying our best to defuse tension and normalize the situation. We cannot allow some leaders to derive political mileage at the cost of the situation.”
In another major development, union minister of state for home, Ajay Mishra Teni, whose earlier statement apparently triggered off trouble on Sunday, said that his son Ashish Mishra Monu was not present at the site where the violence took place.
The farmers had alleged that Monu had mowed down farmers while driving his SUV.
The police have taken Ashish Mishra to a safe house to ensure his safety and security.