In Varanasi to support jailed CAA protesters, Priyanka Gandhi’s temple run
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said on Friday her party will stand behind those arrested in Varanasi for protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act as she met people in the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Priyanka Gandhi has been at the forefront leading her party’s opposition to CAA and the proposed National Register for Citizens (NRC), meeting the families of those injured, killed or arrested during the violent protests against the citizenship act across Uttar Pradesh.
More than 20 people were killed and hundreds injured in Uttar Pradesh as police and protesters clashed last month after the situation spiralled out of control in several areas in the state.
Priyanka Gandhi has continuously accused the Yogi Adityanath-led government and the state police of highhandedness and brutality during the CAA protests.
Watch l Priyanka Gandhi meets activists held during CAA stir in Varanasi, BJP lashes out
On Friday, she interacted with all the 59 people, including social activists and 12 students of Banaras Hindu University (BHU), who were jailed for anti-CAA protest at Benia area of Varanasi in December last year. They were recently released on bail.
“At the instance of the government, police did injustice to the people who protested against CAA peacefully in Varanasi on December 19. We are with them,” she said after the meeting at Rajghat.
The Congress leaders said social activists and others told her that they are being threatened by the administration.
“They said that they are being targeted. There has been sheer injustice with them. I am with them. I am proud of them. I thank them for raising their voice in a peaceful manner.”
When asked about the BJP allegation that the Congress is instigating the youth, she said, “These are the students of the university. They are not rioters. Meet them and listen to the series of incidents that happened to them for protesting against CAA.”
She accused the government of trying to break the country and going against the Constitution.
“It is a matter of great pride that children of the university raised voice for the country,” she said.
She also met 18-month old Champak’s social activist mother Ekta Shekhar, who was also arrested along with her husband Ravi.
“Several students, Gandhians, Ambedkarwadis, and social activists were protesting peacefully against the CAA in Varanasi recently. Police has sent them all to jail. A one-year child is alone at home. Such harsh punishment for peaceful protest! This behaviour of the government has gone beyond limits,” Priyanka Gandhi had tweeted in support of Champak’s parents on December 24 in Hindi.
The Congress leader’s first stop in the temple town was Sant Ravidas’ temple at Rajghat, where she offered prayers and met the trustees.
“Bahut samay se yahan par aane ki ichcha thi jo aaj puri hui. Ravidas samaj ke sab logon ka wa mandir ke sabhi sevakon ko bahut bahut subhkamnaye wa dhanyawad (I had wanted to visit Sant Ravidas Temple for a long time now. My wish has been fulfilled today. Many many congratulations and thanks to the people of Ravidas community and all the workers of the temple,” she wrote in the visitors’ book in the temple.
Priyanka Gandhi then took a boat to Panchganga Ghat where she met those who agitated against the amended citizenship act. She interacted with the mahant of Shrimutt and offered prayers.
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple was next in her itinerary.
The Bharatiya Janata Party hit out at Priyanka Gandhi over her visits to those arrested as its spokesperson Sambit Patra accused her of “selectivism”.
Patra also questioned her absence in Kota in Congress-ruled Rajasthan, where several children have died in a hospital.
“I give her Kota challenge and ask her when will she go to Kota where under the nose of the Congress government in Rajasthan so many children have died. She herself is a mother, she should realise the pain of other mothers as well,” Patra said at a press conference at the BJP’s office in New Delhi.
“It seems she understands the pain selectively as when she visited AIIMS Trauma Centre she chose to look away from the injured students who differed from her ideology. This reeks of selectivism,” Patra alleged.