On way to Lakhimpur Kheri, Rahul Gandhi reaches Sitapur guest house where Priyanka Gandhi is detained
Rahul Gandhi reached Sitapur where some party office-bearers, including Priyanka Gandhi, have been kept in detention since Monday after their bid to meet families affected by violence in Lakhimpur
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday evening reached Sitapur where some party office-bearers, including Priyanka Gandhi , have been kept in detention since Monday after their failed bid to meet the families affected by the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri.
The former Congress president left for Lakhimpur Kheri from the Lucknow airport in his own vehicle after staging a brief dharna' as he was initially asked to travel in a police car.
Rahul Gandhi had reached the Chaudhari Charan Singh airport this afternoon from Delhi along with Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel and Congress general secretaries K C Venugopal and Randeep Surjewala.
Rahul Gandhi ji along with Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel have left for Lakhimpur Kheri from the Lucknow airport, UP Congress spokesperson Ashok Singh told PTI in the afternoon.
Venugopal and Surjewala are also accompanying Rahul Gandhi, who is scheduled to visit Lakhimpur Kheri after Sitapur, where Priyanka Gandhi and other Congress office-bearers are kept detained at the PAC guest house.
In a tweet, Surjewala announced that the Punjab and Chhattisgarh governments will provide Rs 1 crore assistance to the families of each farmer and journalist killed in the Sunday violence.
Television footage from the airport showed officials telling Rahul Gandhi to take the police vehicle, which he did not agree to and sat on a dharna there.
We want to go in our own vehicles, but they want that we should go in their vehicle. I want to know why are you not allowing me to go? First, I was told that I can go in my own vehicle, now you are saying that you will go in a police vehicle. They are doing some mischief, Rahul Gandhi told reporters.
Talking to the press at the airport, Rahul Gandhi said he or Priyanka being sent to jail was irrelevant as the main question was people being crushed by criminals , referring to the Lakhimpur Kheri episode.
Those who should have been in jail are not being put in jail. We are being stopped from meeting the aggrieved families of the farmers," he said.
He also hit out the UP government after he was not allowed to exit the Chaudhari Charan Singh airport, where a group of CRPF personnel were seen preventing his movement out of the airport, despite permission being granted to visit Lakhimpur Kheri.
"See this, is the permission! This is the permission of the UP government, Rahul Gandhi said, gesturing towards the security personnel who had formed a human-chain to prevent his movement.
"I want to ask them, that I am a citizen of the country and have come to UP and want to go (to Lakhimpur Kheri). Now, why am I not allowed to go," he questioned of the government.
"Definitely, there is some mischief," he said, responding to a query from the press.
Asked about Ashish Mishra, the son of Union minister Ajay Mishra who is accused in the case, Rahul Gandhi told the press to ask this question to the government.
Unable to move out of the airport, Rahul Gandhi along with Channi, Baghel and Deepender Singh Hooda, staged a sit-in inside the airport and said they would not end their dharna' until they are allowed to go to Lakhimpur.
Until they allow me to go, I will sit here. Farmers are being oppressed and looted, and the farmers understand this," he said, adding everybody knows for whom these laws have been made.
After he left the airport, it took Gandhi a couple of hours to reach the Provincial Armed Constabulary guest house in Sitapur, around 88 km from Lucknow, where Priyanka Gandhi has been kept in detention since Monday morning.
She was on her way to meet the families of farmers killed in Sunday's violence in Lakhimpur Kheri when she was stopped.
Earlier in the day, the state government had denied permission to Rahul Gandhi for the visit, and an official spokesperson had said that no one would be allowed to visit the violence-hit district to vitiate its atmosphere.
Later, the state government allowed Rahul Gandhi, his sister Priyanka Gandhi and three other Congress leaders to visit the violence-hit district.
"Permission has been given to five leaders of Congress, including Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, to visit Lakhimpur," Additional Chief Secretary, Information, Navneet Sehgal told PTI.