Lakhimpur Kheri violence: Cong demands Union minister’s removal

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra observed “maun vrat [pledge of silence]” and staged a sit-in here for over three hours on Monday reiterating her party’s demand to sack Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra. The minister’s son has been arrested for allegedly driving over farmers at a protest in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3, killing four of them and a journalist.

The Congress demonstration came a day after Gandhi addressed a rally in Varanasi in which she called for Mishra’s dismissal and hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Even as Priyanka led the protest in Lucknow, her brother and former Congress president Rahul Gandhi alleged that the BJP was obstructing the process of justice by not dismissing Mishra. He alleged that the central government neither cares about farmers nor the BJP workers killed in the violence triggered by the mowing down of the protesters.

Priyanka was accompanied by former Congress MPs such as Pramod Tiwari, PL Punia and Zafar Ali Naqvi, and state Congress president Ajay Kumar Lallu at the protest in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue near the General Post Office.

Congress leaders and workers observed similar protests in every Uttar Pradesh district and also other parts of India.

Priyanka and the other Congress leaders placed flowers at the statue before starting their silent protest even as the “Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram” bhajan played in the background.

After the demonstration, Priyanka asked Modi to stop protecting the minister, and said many such heart-wrenching incidents had occurred during the rule of the BJP state government led by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. She cited the examples of Hathras and Unnao incidents, the death of a trader in Gorakhpur, and the killing of 11 tribals in Sonbhadra’s Umbha village.

“Yogi administration was standing with the accused in all these cases,” she alleged.

Later in the day, the Congress leader tweeted in Hindi, “The son of the minister has been arrested in the case… does the minister still have the right to continue in his post? The dismissal of the Union Minister of State for Home is necessary for a fair investigation…Narendra Modi ji, stop protecting your minister.”

Lashing out at the Congress general secretary, Uttar Pradesh Cabinet Minister and government spokesperson Sidhartha Nath Singh said, “We are sending them the good map that will show them the routes to Rajasthan, where recently a Dalit youth was lynched by a mob, and Chhattisgarh, where a farmer was murdered. Maybe you have forgotten the way…That is why I am sending the good maps of both the states.”
Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi tweeted in Hindi along with the hashtag ‘#KisanKoNyayDo, “By not sacking this minister, the BJP is obstructing the process of justice. The central government neither cares about farmers nor about the BJP workers who have been killed.”
—With PTI inputs

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