Opposition leaders stopped from going to Lakhimpur Kheri on day of detentions

Published on Oct 04, 2021 11:51 PM IST

Many of the Opposition leaders from UP and other states announced that they would leave for Lakhimpur Kheri after Sunday’s violence

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav tries to calm down party workers in Lucknow after being stopped from proceeding to Lakhim Kheri. (HT Photo)
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav tries to calm down party workers in Lucknow after being stopped from proceeding to Lakhim Kheri. (HT Photo)
ByHT Correspondent, Lucknow

The battle lines between the Uttar Pradesh government and Opposition parties were drawn on Sunday night after eight people were killed in violence in Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh , resulting in a situation which saw a spate of detentions on Monday.

Many of the Opposition leaders from UP and other states announced that they would leave for Lakhimpur Kheri, setting the stage for high-tension drama that unfolded quite predictably.

For instance, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra landed at Lucknow on late Sunday evening. Soon, she attempted to head to Lakhimpur Kheri with a team of leaders and a large contingent of party workers despite being detained at her Lucknow residence, the Kaul House.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) national general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra made an abortive attempt to leave his house for Lakhimpur Kheri around the same time. Aam Aadmi Party MP and UP in-charge Sanjay Singh too made a bid around midnight. He was detained in Sitapur and sent back.

Some other leaders had announced that they would go to Lakhimpur Kheri Monday morning.

They included Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav, Rashtriya Lok Dal president Jayant Chaudhary, Chattishgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel and Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhjinder S Randhawa. Besides, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had announced she would send five Trinamool Congress (TMC) MPs to Lakhimpur Kheri.

Amid rain at night, Priyanka broke the police cordon around her Lucknow residence and walked out, locked horns with police on duty, boarded her car and proceeded towards Lakhimpur Kheri to meet the victims’ families. However, police stopped her at several spots, including allegedly by blocking the path with trucks, but her motorcade managed to cross the hurdles. Priyanka had a heated altercation with the police and she even warned them till she was finally stopped at Hariya in Sitapur district near Lakhimpur Kheri around 2am. There, she was detained and sent to the PAC guest house. Many of her video clips made by Congress workers went viral all through the night and the next day, showing her travel, altercations and sweeping the floor with a broom in the room where she was detained.

Chandrashekhar Azad of Bhim Army, who did not have a convoy like the other leaders, managed to sneak into Lakhimpur Kheri and reached the spot by dawn.

The police had a tough time on the road from Lucknow to Lakhimpur through the night and the day.

Around midnight, the Lucknow police began barricading Lucknow’s Vikramaditya Marg that houses Akhilesh Yadav’s residence and the Samajwadi Party headquarters.

To prevent him going, the police allegedly made some transporters block the road at both ends by parking trucks across. The trucks were allowed to leave when the anti-riot force in large numbers were deployed all around Akhilesh’s house and the SP office.

Akhilesh Yadav made an attempt to drive off at around 8 am, but was stopped. Soon afterwards, some unidentified persons set a police jeep on fire. While the police held SP workers responsible, Samajwadi Party blamed the police for the fire. Around 10am, a large crowd of SP workers with party flags gathered near the cordoned off area.

Akhilesh, along with SP national general secretary Ramgopal Yadav, sat on the road outside his residence and shouted anti-government statements.

Within in half-an-hour, the police detained him and sent him to the Eco Gardens (built in BSP chief Mayawati’s regime) nearly 5 km away. He was released from detention around 5pm.

Many SP workers clashed with police. The police resorted to a lathicharge and packed several of them into buses to Eco Gardens. While in the vehicle, Akhilesh tweeted: “All party workers and leaders should sit on dharna wherever they are.”

Samajwadi Party and Congress leaders protested in almost all the districts across the state. The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) protested largely in the western UP districts. Around two dozen RLD leaders, including its state president Masood Ahmad, were detained near Bakshi Ka Talab on the outskirts of Lucknow.

Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia chief Shivpal Yadav managed to leave his house through the backdoor while the police were focusing on Akhilesh’s house and the SP office.

His convoy sped off but the police later intercepted it and detained him at the Lucknow police lines. He was released hours later.

Punjab deputy chief minsiter Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who took the road route to Lakhimpur Kheri from Punjab, was detained by UP police immediately on entering Saharanpur. Earlier in the day, he was denied permission by the UP government to reach Lucknow by air.

UP cabinet minister and government spokesperson Sidharth Nath Singh, in a statement, said: “We are taking the matter seriously and it is under investigation. CM has said the culprits will be punished. The Opposition is using the incident for political tourism and political competition as polls are around the corner.”

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