Sibal, Tankha write to UP CM over 'illegal detention' of Priyanka Gandhi

The Congress leaders said they reserve the right to seek legal action against the Uttar Pradesh government for "undermining constitutional values and violating the law"

A still from a video where Priyanka Gandhi stood firm against the police
A still from a video where Priyanka Gandhi stood firm against the police
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PTI

Congress Rajya Sabha MPs and senior lawyers Kapil Sibal and Vivek Tankha wrote to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday, questioning the "illegal detention" of party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and MP Deepender Singh Hooda in Sitapur.

The Congress leaders said they reserve the right to seek legal action against the Uttar Pradesh government for "undermining constitutional values and violating the law".

They also marked the letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and asked why he had not sacked Union minister Ajay Mishra nor arrested his son, who is an accused in the Lakhimpur violence case.

In the letter to Adityanath, the two MPs asked why Vadra and Hooda were kept in detention for more than 24 hours and denied access to their lawyers.

Priyanka Gandhi was under detention since Monday morning, her party claimed. She was on her way to meet the families of farmers killed in Sunday's violence in Lakhimpur Kheri when she was stopped.

Both Sibal and Tankha are leaders of the G-23 who have been demanding organisational overhaul and had written to Congress president Sonia Gandhi in this regard last year.

"We are writing this letter to you in the backdrop of an unfortunate criminal incident that took place at Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh. As per the video clips circulating on social media platforms, farmers protesting against the farm laws were deliberately mowed down by vehicles resulting in their deaths on October 3, 2021," the letter said.

"We wish to have answers to our queries at the earliest, failing which we reserve the right to seek legal action against the Government of Uttar Pradesh, which has undermined not just constitutional values but is violating the laws with impunity," the two Congress leaders said.

Four of the eight dead in Sunday's violence in Lakhimpur Kheri were farmers, allegedly knocked down by vehicles driven by BJP workers travelling to welcome Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya to an event in the area.

The others, including BJP workers and their driver, were allegedly pulled out of the vehicles and lynched by the protesters.

The Uttar Pradesh Police has lodged a case against Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra but no arrest has been made so far.

"While the Uttar Pradesh government is detaining Priyanka Gandhi illegally. Why is it turning a blind eye to the alleged perpetrators of the crime named in an FIR, which includes the son of a sitting Minister of Home (MoS). These persons are alleged and named as per the FIR and in the statements of eyewitnesses as perpetrators of this criminal act," the letter said.

"Why is it that in Uttar Pradesh even a savage brutality actionable under Section 302 IPC does not seem to merit attention of the state government? In these circumstances, how can the Home Minister (MoS), Government of India continue to hold office? Why has the prime minister not asked him to resign forthwith? We are marking this letter to the prime minister of India as well," it added.

Priyanka Gandhi's car was repeatedly blocked from proceeding till she was detained by the Uttar Pradesh Police, the senior lawyers said, adding that it was clear from the video clips that she had not violated Section 144 CrPC or any other provision of law.

Sibal and Tankha asked if there was anything to indicate that Priyanka Gandhi had any design to commit a cognizable offence and if not, how could she be arrested under Section 151 CrPC?

"Assuming her detention was under Section 151 CrPC, how can she be detained for more than 24 hours?" they added.

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