Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Sunday reached Prayagraj district to support the boatmen who were allegedly harassed by the local police.
Priyanka had recently taken a holy dip at the Triveni Sangam in Prayagraj on ‘Mauni Amavasya’ and had traveled in boatman Sujit Nishad’s boat who informed her of the atrocities being committed on local boatmen.
Nishad had informed Priyanka about the issues that boatmen belonging to the Nishad community were facing, including brutality against them, by police whom he alleged had destroyed their boats.
The boatman requested her assistance in raising their voices against the oppression to which she agreed, party sources said.
Sujit said several boats belonging to the Nishad community, an OBC (Other Backward Class) caste, were damaged by police and administrative officials in the Banswaar village in the trans-Yamuna area.
He said the incident took place on February 4 when some people complained that illegal mining was being done here. The police came and damaged 16 boats and 30 people were left injured in the ensuing scuffle. The police also brought a number of dogs to create fear among the people, mainly those belonging to the Nishad community.
The Uttar Pradesh government had banned the use of boats in sand mining across the state on June 24, 2019, leaving thousands of boatmen unemployed.
As soon as the news of Priyanka’s visit on Sunday reached the district administration, workers were sent to the Banswara village to repair the damaged boats.
Meanwhile, a huge crowd turned up in the village to meet Priyanka Gandhi, who patiently listened to their problems and assured them of support from the Congress.
Addressing the people in Banswara village, the Congress leader said the Nishad community is directly related to rivers but the state government is standing with those involved in illegal mining that threatens the life of a river.
She said the Congress would legally fight for the rights of the boatmen and when the party comes to power, boatmen would be given landholdings.
Earlier, on her arrival at the Prayagraj airport, Priyanka was accorded a warm welcome by party workers. Sujit Nishad also reached there to welcome her.