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Will Return to Sonbhadra, Says Priyanka Gandhi after Standoff with UP Govt Comes to An End

The deadlock ended amid a show of solidarity in the Congress for Gandhi, who is the general secretary in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, with party leaders calling her detention illegal arrest and organising protests at several places.

PTI

Updated:July 20, 2019, 7:59 PM IST
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Will Return to Sonbhadra, Says Priyanka Gandhi after Standoff with UP Govt Comes to An End
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra consoles a family member of Sonbhadra massacre victim, who had travelled to Chunar Fort to meet her after the former was stopped from proceeding to Sonbhadra, in Mirzapur, Saturday, July 20, 2019. Aleast 10 people were killed in a shootout on Wednesday over a land dispute in Sonbhadra. (PTI Photo)
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Mirzapur/Lucknow/New Delhi: The standoff between Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and the Uttar Pradesh government ended on Saturday, a day after the Congress leader was detained when she insisted on visiting Sonbhadra where 10 people were gunned down this week.

Gandhi headed back to Delhi after a meeting with some Sonbhadra villagers who travelled to the Mirzapur guesthouse where she had stayed overnight, refusing an offer from local administration to furnish a personal bond and leave. She said those who had arrested her and brought her to the Chunar guesthouse were now saying she is free to leave.

"I want to tell them that I have fulfilled my objective. I met the family members. I am leaving today, but I shall return," she told party workers thronging the guesthouse.

UP Congress leader Ajay Rai said, "The standoff between Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi and the Mirzapur district administration is over as she has met members of the aggrieved families from Sonbhadra." Rai said she met 15 people from the victims' families, including seven women.

Ten people, all Gond tribals, were shot dead Wednesday when a village headman, Yagya Dutt, and his supporters allegedly opened fire in an attempt to take possession of a piece of land in Ubbha village in Sonbhadra's Ghorawal area. Twenty-eight others were injured, including nine supporters of the village head.

After meeting villagers, Gandhi left for Varanasi where she offered prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath and Kaal Bhairav temples before heading for Delhi.

The deadlock ended amid a show of solidarity in the Congress for Gandhi, who is the general secretary in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, with party leaders calling her detention illegal arrest" and organising protests at several places.

Congress leaders Raj Babbar, Rajeev Shukla, RPN Singh and Jitin Prasada landed at the Varanasi airport, but were stopped from travelling ahead to Sonbhadra or Chunar, where Gandhi was then detained.

Earlier in Lucknow, a Congress delegation submitted a memorandum to UP Governor Ram Naik, urging him to direct the state government to allow Gandhi to meet the Sonbhadra victims' families.

A three-member Trinamool Congress delegation from Delhi was also detained at Varanasi airport.

Twenty-nine people were arrested after the clash, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said on Friday, while blaming the previous Congress governments for the land dispute which has been festering for decades. Adityanath will go to Ubbha village on Sunday, officials said.

On Friday, Gandhi met some of the victims at the BHU Trauma Centre in Varanasi. But she was stopped by police at Narainpur in Mirzapur district, while she was travelling to Sonbhadra by road.

When Gandhi insisted on going to Ubbha village, she and her supporters were brought to the guesthouse. The administration said she had been taken into preventive detention' as prohibitory orders were in force in Sonbhadra.

On Facebook, Rahul Gandhi had slammed the action against his sister. "The imprisonment of Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi, on way to meet the families of Sonbhadra massacre victims, in Chunar guest house through the night without water and electricity by a dictatorially inclined UP government is an attempt to trample upon democracy," he said in Hindi.

Priyanka Gandhi said her party will pay Rs 10 lakh each to the families of those killed in the violence and demanded that the state government should pay a compensation of Rs 25 lakh each.

After the guesthouse meeting with the villagers, Gandhi accused the Sonbhadra administration of not acting in time to prevent the violence.

"There are children who have lost both parents. There are some families in which the children and their parents are in the hospital, she told reporters.

The ownership of the land that they are cultivating for generations should be given to them, she said.

"Cases registered against innocent villagers must be withdrawn and the people leading this fight for their rights must be given security. There is no need to entangle these people in politics," she said.

On Twitter, she said, "Finally met the families of the Ubbha massacre. What they have been through is unimaginably brutal and unjust. Every single Indian should stand with them in the name of humanity."

District magistrate Anurag Patel said Gandhi was stopped from going to Sonbhadra to prevent a breach of peace.

There were chances that her visit to Sonbhadra may affect law and order. She was only stopped from going to Sonbhadra. She was neither taken into custody nor stopped from going to any other place," he said.

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