Lucknow, December 28: Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Saturday accused Lucknow police personnel of grabbing her neck and pushing her to the ground while trying to prevent her from visiting the house of a retired IPS officer who has been arrested for opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The Congress leader claimed that police personnel stopped her cavalcade while she was heading to the house of 76-year-old SR Darapuri, forcing her to hitch a ride on a party worker’s scooter. Upon being stopped again at another intersection two kilometres away, she decided to cover the rest of the way to Mr Darapuri’s residence at Sector 18, Indiranagar, on foot.
“The UP police stopped me while I was going to meet Darapuriji’s family. They grabbed me by the neck and manhandled me. They then surrounded me while I was going on a party worker’s two-wheeler, after which I walked to reach there,” she was quoted as saying.
A video of the incident shows the Congress leader walking along with supporters and members of her security detail when she is suddenly waylaid by a policewoman. A brief scuffle follows before she is allowed to proceed.
Priyanka Gandhi said another woman officer “even pushed her to the ground” in the course of the scuffle. “I was surrounded by women policemen, and one of them held me by my throat. Another woman cop pushed me and I fell down. I was forcibly stopped and a woman officer pulled me up by my neck. But I was determined. I am standing with every citizen who has faced police oppression. This is my satyagraha,” she was quoted as saying.
The Congress leader said the police had no reason to stop her in this manner. “They stopped me in the middle of the road! The BJP government is working in a cowardly manner. I am the in-charge of (eastern) Uttar Pradesh Congress and the government is not going to decide where will I go in the state,” she said.
Priyanka Gandhi also rejected arguments that she may have been stopped to preserve the “law and order” situation in the city. “How was the law-and-order scenario going to deteriorate when I was going in a peaceful manner? They do not have the right to stop me. If they want to arrest me, they should do so,” she told reporters after meeting the retired IPS officer’s family.
The Uttar Pradesh police have denied charges of “manhandling” the Congress leader, claiming that they only stopped her cavalcade because it had strayed from the planned route. “Archana Singh, the policewoman in question, has termed reports that she grabbed Priyanka Gandhi’s neck and pushed her to the ground as completely untrue. She says that she was only trying to fulfil her duty to the best of her abilities,” said Lucknow Senior Superintendent of Police Kalanidhi Naithani.
Mr Darapuri, a cancer patient, was taken into custody from his Lucknow residence on charges of rioting earlier this week. Uttar Pradesh police officers confirmed on Thursday that as many as 1,113 people have been arrested from places across the state in connection with the agitation. They have also identified 498 people — with as many as 148 from Meerut alone — who will be asked to pay up for damage to public property.