Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has said the families of farmers who were killed during violent clashes in Lakhimpur Kheri do not need compensation from the government but only demand justice.
In an exclusive interview with India Today, Priyanka Gandhi said, “When I went to meet those families, they said that they had got compensation of Rs 45 lakh from the government. But all they wanted was justice.”
Priyanka Gandhi further said until Union minister Ajay Misra Teni, father of accused Ashish Misra, holds his position in the cabinet, there are no possibilities of a fair probe.
“This inquiry should be done by a sitting judge of a high court. If the Minister of State for Home is there, then we cannot expect that the investigation will be fair,” she added.
Priyanka Gandhi also raised questions over the delay in the arrest of Ashish Misra, even as the police have issued summons to him twice.
“Which killer is given time to recover before arrest? Why haven’t you (police) arrested him yet?” she asked.
Priyanka Gandhi targets PM Modi
Priyanka Gandhi also targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not sacking Ajay Misra Teni from the Union Cabinet despite murder allegations against his son.
“I want to ask the prime minister what message are you giving to the people of the country? You came here (in Lucknow) and didn’t say a word,” she said, referring to PM Modi’s recent visit to Lucknow to inaugurate a three-day event to commemorate 75 years of Independence.
“You (PM) basically want to give a message to the country that if you are in power, you are rich or you are a leader of the BJP, then you can get justice. If you are a common man, Dalit, poor woman, then there is no possibility of justice for you,” she added.
Priyanka Gandhi said that while Ajay Misra was claiming his son was not present at the spot of violence in Lakhimpur, the eyewitnesses saw him there.
“This gives a message across the country that the prime minister doesn’t care. There is no law applicable to his minister. And whatever happens, he will remain the Minister of State for Home and there will be no fair investigation. This is the message going out to the public which is very wrong,” Priyanka Gandhi said.
‘Police defending the criminal’
Priyanka Gandhi also accused the UP Police of trying to shield Ajay Misra’s son. “The sequence of the last 4-5 days shows that the police force of Uttar Pradesh is busy blockading politicians and house arrest of the (victim) families. The police are occupied with useless things. Don’t you think the criminals who were in the car should have been arrested by now by the police?” she asked.
Priyanka Gandhi also accused the police of covering up the investigation. “When I was trying to go to Kashyap ji’s (journalist Raman Kashyap) house, the IG said why are you going there as he died after being beaten during clashes. When I went to his house, his father and brother showed me the photo in which tyre marks are seen on the body. It is clear that he did not die due to the beating,” she said.
Priyanka Gandhi said not a single word in the journalist’s postmortem report was readable. “His uncle was saying that we are not even sure whether the x-ray is of my nephew or someone else’s,” she said.
Priyanka Gandhi alleged that crime incidents in Sonbhadra, Hathras and Unnao highlight the pressure of police and administration.
“The biggest thing is the way the force was used. It is not a new thing. What we saw in Hathras, the entire administration and the police were after the family of the victim and they spoiled the reputation of the victim as well,” she said.
Priyanka Gandhi on Opposition’s role
Priyanka Gandhi said if the media and the Opposition did not show the truth, then there would only be sugarcoating of events.
“When the son of a minister is accused of crushing farmers under the wheels of his car, is this not a political issue? The government is not taking any action. Is it not a political issue? What is the pain of the people of the country, the farmers — shouldn’t it be the issue of the leaders?” she asked.
“The government wants everyone to be silent. In this democracy, no one speaks. They want to speak everywhere and promote themselves,” she added.
Priyanka Gandhi said the BJP believes that when the Opposition speaks against it, it is doing politics. But when the BJP raises an issue, it is doing nationalism.
“They do propaganda in the media so that people will remain silent and not raise their voice. But I will not remain silent nor will the Congress party,” she said.
‘Yogi’s statement an insult to Dalits, women, sanitation workers’
Priyanka Gandhi also hit back at UP CM Yogi Adityanath for his remark where he took a swipe at her for sweeping the floor during detention.
“This is not my insult. This statement is against crores of sanitation workers, women who sweep their houses, our Dalit brothers and sisters who often do this work. This is the mentality of the chief minister in which he is saying that he has made you worthy that you should sweep.
“Listening to his statement, it seems that this is small work, a dirty job,” she said.
Akhilesh Yadav’s politics limited to tweets
Priyanka Gandhi also took on Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav, saying his politics is limited to Twitter.
“If you ever meet me, you will know where I live. You saw me in Hathras, Unnao Sonbhadra. Our party did the most relief work at the time of Covid lockdown. He is locked in the room, his politics is limited to tweets and sometimes meeting his workers,” she said.
“I don’t want to criticize him, but I haven’t seen his programme. If he is talking about me, then everyone is watching. For the last one-and-a-half years, you are seeing that we are fighting for everyone,” she added.
Priyanka Gandhi also said that she does not believe in the politics of opportunism and does not want to use somebody’s pain for personal gain.
“The kind of accidents I have seen in my life, the family members I have lost, I will not use anyone’s pain in this way. If I become such a woman, then I will not be able to face myself,” she said.
“Be it Indira ji, Rajiv ji or Sonia ji, I learned life’s principles from them.”