Congress MP Rahul Gandhi was briefly stopped from boarding a flight to Lucknow – from where he intends to travel to Lakhimpur Kheri to visit the families of farmers who died in Sunday’s violence – party sources said Wednesday morning.
The sources said PNRs – a digital ID to identify bookings – for Mr Gandhi and his four colleagues, including the Chief Ministers of two Congress-ruled states were being cancelled and the delegation was briefly stopped at the airport before the airline reversed tack and permitted all five to board.
Other members of the delegation are Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel (stopped from leaving Lucknow airport), his Punjab counterpart Charanjit Channi, KC Venugopal and Sachin Pilot
“There used to be democracy (now) there is dictatorship in India. Politicians cannot go to Uttar Pradesh. We are being told since yesterday that we cannot go to Uttar Pradesh,” he had said.
Mr Gandhi – who has been denied permission to visit Lakhimpur Kheri, or even nearby Sitapur, where his sister and Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has been “illegally detained” – insisted he would, nevertheless, attempt to meet the farmers’ families.
“Hindustan ki awaaz ko kuchla jaa raha hai (The voice of Hindustan is being muzzled).”
“There is a limit to this… sooner or later there will be an explosion. We are trying to tell them (the ruling BJP) ‘do not do this’. We are pushing for maintaining the democratic system. We are trying to give them confidence that in this country you cannot be run over by a son of a minister,” he said.
Eight people, including BJP workers, died Sunday as violence erupted during a farmers’ protest in Lakhimpur Kheri ahead of a visit by Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya.
Four of the dead were people in the cars, apparently part of a convoy of BJP workers who had come to welcome the Mr Maurya and were attacked after allegedly running over the protesting farmers.
One of the cars in the convoy was allegedly driven by Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s son. Mr Mishra told NDTV that while the car was his, neither he nor his son were at the scene of the clashes.
However, a fresh video (which NDTV cannot independently verify) from the incident suggests Mr Mishra’s son – Ashish – may, in fact, have been at the scene.
A murder case has been filed against Ashish Mishra but he has yet to be arrested.