High drama unfolded in Lucknow on Saturday evening as Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra alleged she was manhandled by police personnel who grabbed her by the throat and pushed her when she resisted their attempts to stop her from visiting the residence of a retired IPS officer. Officer SR Darapuri had been arrested in connection with the recent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
“They do not have the right to stop me. If they want to arrest me, they should do so,” said Gandhi after meeting Darapuri at his Indiranagar’s Sector 18 residence. She also accused the BJP government of acting in a cowardly manner.However, the state police denied the allegations as “false”.
Narrating the sequence of events, Gandhi said, “As we were on our way, a police vehicle came and the policemen said you cannot go. I asked them ‘why’. And was told that we will not be allowed to move ahead.”
“I got off the vehicle and started walking. I was surrounded and a woman cop 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 recounted.
Lucknow Senior Superintendent of Police Kalanidhi Naithini said the morning area in-charge, Archana Singh, has presented a report to the Additional Superintendent where she has mentioned that the politician’s car was not moving in the scheduled route — it was rather moving in a different route.
“Singh has also written that whatever rumours are doing rounds on social media of heckling and strangulating Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are wrong,” said Naithini.
Archana Singh, the Circle Officer at the Modern Control Room Lucknow who was deployed in security duty, said the allegations of manhandling the Congress leader and grabbing her by neck are “false”.
UP Congress spokesperson Ashok Singh said that Gandhi’s vehicle was stopped at the Lohia crossing. “She protested and asked as to why was she being stopped,” he said, adding that she started walking after the police stopped her.
“The policemen started following her. After walking for almost a kilometre, she again got into her vehicle. After this, when the police tried to stop her in Munshipulia area, she again started walking and then suddenly turned towards a bylane in Indiranagar’s sector 18. She walked for almost three-four kilometres and gave the police and party workers a slip,” he added.
Gandhi said the police action led to traffic snarls. “There is no reason to do so. God knows, ask them why they have stopped (us).”
“What is the reason for stopping us, that too in the middle of the city? This is not an issue of the SPG, but of the Uttar Pradesh police. There is no point stopping us. Will you stop (anyone) in the middle of a crossing?” she asked a police official.
Gandhi also aired her views in a Facebook post.
After meeting Darapuri’s family members, she said, “I was going in a peaceful manner, how was the law and order scenario going to get deteriorated? I did not tell anyone about this (visit) so that not more than three persons accompany me. They do not have the right to stop me. If they want to arrest me, they should do so.”
To a question on whether the government felt its politics was in danger because of her, she said, “Everybody’s politics is in danger.”
Earlier in the day, addressing party leaders and workers during a programme held here to mark the 135th Foundation Day of the party, she virtually equated the BJP government with the British.
“Today in the country, there are such powers in the government with whom we had a historical clash. We are at present fighting an ideology against which we fought during the freedom struggle,” she said at the UP Congress headquarters.
“Today the country is in trouble. If we do not raise our voices, we will be proved to be cowards,” she said.