The Uttar Pradesh Police on Thursday registered a case against Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, hours after they were detained on their way to Hathras to meet the family of a Dalit woman, whose brutal gangrape by four upper-caste men has sparked nationwide outrage, The Hindu reported.
A first information report was registered against the siblings under sections 188, 269 and 270 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act.
The FIR was filed at the Ecotech One police station of Gautam Budh Nagar, according to NDTV. Besides the Gandhis, it named 150 Congress workers, who had accompanied the two leaders.
Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi were detained on Thursday afternoon. The two politicians were taken to the guest house of Buddha International Circuit for violating Section 144 and were later released on personal bonds.
Their convoy was first stopped at the Yamuna Expressway in Greater Noida by Uttar Pradesh Police at a toll gate, following which all of them decided to walk on foot. However, few kilometers into the march, they were stopped again by the police. The Congress leaders alleged that when they asserted they would continue marching, they were mishandled.
Photos and videos on social media showed Gandhi falling down during an altercation with a police officer, who shoved him around. Gandhi also alleged the police baton charged him. “Just now police pushed me, lathicharged me and threw me to the ground. I want to ask, can only Modi walk in this country?” Gandhi had said. “Can’t a normal person walk? Our vehicle was stopped, so we started walking.”
Ahead of the Congress leaders visit, the police had sealed the borders of Hathras and imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code in the district, which prohibits a gathering of four or more people. The police claimed this was done because some of its officials had contracted the coronavirus in the district. They said the restrictions had been in place since September 1.
But the Congress alleged it was a ploy to stop the Gandhis from visiting the woman’s family. Rahul Gandhi said he agreed to go alone if their visit violated Section 144. “But still they didn’t allow me and we were pushed around,” he added.
Gautam Buddh Nagar Additional Commissioner (Law and Order) Love Kumar told The Hindu that the Congress leaders had been detained, but added that it was an arrest for violating Section 144. “They were released after signing personal bonds,” Kumar said. “No witnesses were called for bail. So practically it was detention.”
Kumar claimed the police had only used “mild force” to disperse the Congress workers who accompanied the Gandhis, as they were not allowing cars of the leaders to move.
After being escorted back to Delhi by UP police, Priyanka Gandhi called the Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh oppressive. She said that Congress leaders were forcefully stopped from visiting the victim’s family, and even the media has been barred from entering the village. She further alleged that the district magistrate of Hathras had threatened the woman’s family to remain silent.
Congress protests against detention
The Congress has launched state-wide protests against the forceful detention of Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Congress spokesperson said the way their convoy was stopped by the police would prove to be the “last nail in the coffin of the Yogi government”.
Protests were organised outside the BJP headquarters in Kolkata. Rallies and protests were held at Central Avenue, Hazra and Moulali areas, according to The Indian Express. The party workers demanded immediate action against those who are responsible for the rape of the woman, and those who attacked their party leaders.
In Rajasthan, the party workers staged a sit-in protest. Cabinet ministers, MLAs and party workers took part in the demonstration, PTI reported. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot condemned the Uttar Pradesh Police’s conduct and said the politicians detention was illegal.
“They misbehaved with Rahul ji,” Gehlot added. “This is undemocratic and brutal use of force. Uttar Pradesh BJP government’s attempt to harass opposition leaders like this is reprehensible.” The chief minister accused the government of acting in a “dictatorial manner”.
The Congress also staged protests in parts of Haryana on Thursday evening. Party workers took out protest marches in Ambala, Sirsa, Hisar and Karnal, among other parts of the state.
Haryana Congress president Kumari Selja said the protests were held against the detention of Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi and the manner in which they were stopped from proceeding further.
The West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee strongly condemned the manhandling of the Gandhis and said the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh was at an all time low.
“A woman was raped and murdered brutally in Uttar Pradesh and the Yogi Adityanath government is busy suppressing facts and shielding the real culprits,” said senior Congress leader and Leader of the Opposition Abdul Mannan.
“Our party leader Rahul ji and Priyanka ji were going to meet the family members to express their solidarity,” Mannan added. “However, the police in a cowardly act not only stopped them but also attacked them. We wholeheartedly condemn this and there will be protests across the state against this.”
- Hathras gangrape: Woman did not die, she was killed by a ruthless government, says Sonia Gandhi
- What the name of the woman raped and battered in Hathras says about the crime
- In videos: How the Dalit woman raped in Hathras was cremated without letting her family say goodbye
- ‘Our own George Floyd moment’: Politicians outraged about Hathras woman’s hurried cremation