“Farmers are being systematically attacked in the country. They are being crushed and murdered by SUVs. The farm laws are stealing from farmers,” Congress key leader Rahul Gandhi alleges on Wednesday, announcing that a 5-member delegation led by Gandhi will visit Lakhimpur Kheri.
“Other parties are being allowed. We are being stopped. I will try to go to Lakhimpur Kheri. The prime minister was in Lucknow yesterday but he did not visit Lakhimpur Kheri,” Gandhi told reporters.
Minutes following Gandhi’s announcement of visit, Lucknow Police Commissioner Thakur said that Rahul Gandhi will not be allowed to come as “his visit to Lakhimpur might create problems.”
Gandhi further said that the job of the opposition is to create pressure as the government is doing injustice with the farmers. “We had created a pressure during the Hathras incident and that is why action was taken.”
He went on to say: “Earlier, there was democracy in the country. Today it is a dictatorship. The government is insulting the farmers. The opposition leaders are barred from entering Lakhimpur. This is what happens in a dictatorship. We are trying to tell the government to let the country run with a democratic process. It’s a safety valve.”
Talking about Priyanka Gandhi in custody, Congress leader said, “We are not bothered by manhandling. We have been taught by our family to deal with this.”
Meanwhile, farm leaders have given the Uttar Pradesh government a weeks time to arrest Ashish Mishra, the son of Union Minister of State Ajay Mishra, who was driving one of the three cars which ploughed through a group of farmer protesters in Lakhimpur Kheri on Sunday. Four farmers and one journalist were killed in the incident, while three others died in subsequent clashes.
Facing massive outrage from farmers and opposition, the Uttar Pradesh Police filed an FIR on charges of murder against Ashish Mishra. It was based on a complaint by a farm protestor who alleged the incident was a “pre-planned conspiracy” by the father-son duo.
Senior Opposition leaders have been barred from visiting Lakhimpur Kheri over the last couple of days, including Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who was arrested last evening after being held in detention for over 24 hours at Sitapur. An FIR was registered against former UP CM and Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav for “violation of Section 144 (on unlawful assembly)”.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel was stopped from leaving the Lucknow airport. AAP MP Sanjay Singh was put under arrested after being kept in a guest house for over 30 hours.