New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi condemned the UP government's handling of the Lakhimpur-Kheri violence and asserted that the woes of farmers had begun much earlier with the BJP government's farm laws and land acquisition bills which left them helpless.
"As an opposition party, our duty is to pressure the government to act. When we put pressure, things start to happen, otherwise, nothing would have happened in Hathras too," said Rahul Gandhi. He reiterated his desire to visit Lakhimpur Kheri with two others to pay respects to the families of those deceased in the violence. Farmers were being harassed, oppressed and now murdered in cold blood, said Gandhi.
He also lauded his sister Priyanka who is detained by UP Police on her way to visit families of the deceased in Lakhimpur-Kheri. "We [Priyanka and Rahul] are not afraid of being manhandled," Gandhi said. Talks with farmers would also continue as the situation unfolded. The Uttar Pradesh Police has registered an FIR against Priyanka Gandhi and 11 others for "disturbing the peace" in the state. The Congress general secretary, meanwhile, claimed she has been put under detention without any order or FIR.
Gandhi also vociferously attacked the UP government's imposition of Section 144 on the area which prevented people from approaching the area.
"Every other party is being allowed access but not us," Gandhi said. He hoped to travel with only two others as Section 144 forbade gatherings of 5 persons and above.
He also criticised the Uttar Pradesh government for stopping Chhattisgarh chief minister and Congress leader Bhupesh Baghel at Lucknow airport, saying Section 144 deals with the gathering of four or more people, but Baghel was alone.
Gandhi alleged that the BJP-RSS nexus had subverted the fundamental institutions of state and law, allowing criminals like Ashish Mishra to get away scot-free and replacing them with a dictatorship.
" We are trying to tell the government to let the democratic process happen," Gandhi said, emphasising that the conference was for farmers issues. "...You cannot be run over by a criminal that calls himself a minister's son and then nothing happens. We will not let that happen."