Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday visited Umbha village in Sonbhadra, Uttar Pradesh, to meet the families of those who were killed in a shooting incident last month. Ten Adivasis were killed in the incident following a land dispute on July 17.
“We will stand with these people till they get their land back,” Gandhi told reporters while meeting the families. “They are still being harassed by the administration and the government.”
She claimed that fake cases had been filed against the Adivasis, PTI reported. She spent an hour and a half in the village, and invited villagers to Delhi to discuss the future course of action.
Last month, soon after the incident, the Congress leader had attempted to visit Sonbhadra but was prevented from doing so by district authorities. She was detained at a guesthouse in Mirzapur, and met just two families. The administration had said her visit would create a law and order problem.
Earlier in the day, Gandhi had tweeted: “Today, I am going to Sonbhadra to meet the brothers-sisters and children of Umbha village, enquire about their well-being and to be part of their struggle. I had promised the members of affected families of Umbha village, who had come to meet me at Chunar fort, that I will visit them.”
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Uttar Pradesh spokesperson Chandra Mohan said that this was a “perfect example” of petty politics using a tragedy. “Look at any problem from 1947 till now, Congress will be found at the origin,” he tweeted. “Nothing can be more disgusting than using dead bodies for politics. Instead of targeting the government over Sonbhadra, it would be better if Priyanka Gandhi apologised for Congress’ ‘sins’.”
Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma called it a political stunt and said: “The root cause of the Sonbhadra incident can be traced to the Congress. She should go there to repent the act of former Congress leaders.”
Bahujan Samaj Party President Mayawati also criticised Congress and Samajwadi Party, saying that they should “stop shedding crocodile tears” and work towards giving back the land to Adivasis. “According to the victims of the Sonbhadra case, first the land mafia of Congress and Samajwadi Party grabbed their land, following which many were killed,” Mayawati tweeted. “Along with this, the BJP-led government in the state should also take strict steps in this matter, and the Adivasis should be given their land back.”
Apart from the 10 villagers who were killed, nearly 28 people were injured in the shooting on July 19. At least 26 people, including village head Yaghya Dutt Bhuriya, were arrested. Bhuriya and his associated allegedly opened fire at the villagers over a land dispute.
The incident triggered a political controversy with the Congress and the Samajwadi Party criticising the state government. Adityanath blamed the Opposition parties for the incident.