Toeing the party line on scrapping of special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra called the Centre’s move as ‘unconstitutional’ and arbitrary’.
In Sonbhadra on Tuesday, Priyanka visited the families of the victims who died in a recent daylight shooting in Umbha village. “My opinion and stand on the abrogation of Article 370 is the same as that of my party. The manner in which it was done is completely unconstitutional and against all principles of democracy. There are rules to be followed when such things are done, but they were just not followed,” Priyanka said.
The Congress leader said that her party always stood for safeguarding the Constitution. “Unlike the BJP where only one voice is heard, every voice in the Congress is attached importance and an issue is properly discussed to reach a conclusion,” she said.
Last week, the Parliament adopted a resolution approving a government move to scrap provisions of Article 370 which accordedspecial status to Jammu and Kashmir and also passed a Bill splitting the northern state into two Union Territories - Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
On Tuesday morning, Priyanka landed at Babatpur airport in Varanasi and was welcomed by senior Congress leaders — former MP Dr Rajesh Mishra, ex-MLAs Ajay Rai and Lalitesh Pati Tripathi among others. Elaborate security arrangements were made in view of her visit but she refused to speak to the media.
Priyanka’s motorcade then headed to Umbha village of Sonbhadra where she was gioven a rousing reception by locals at a primary school.
At the school, Priyanka preferred to sit on the ground with the bereaved families instead of sitting on a chair. She patiently heard the grievances of the bereaved families, particularly the widows, and assured them all assistance from the party. She also spoke to eyewitnesses and visited the crime scene.
The bereaved families told Priyanka that they demanded jobs for their children, fake cases filed against innocent villagers be withdrawn, those arrested for no fault of theirs be released and the culprits be hanged to death.
Priyanka instructed Congress leaders to talk to the Sonbhadra District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police in connection with the demands of the victims’ kin.
Later, during an informal chat with the media in Sonbhadra, Priyanka said that she had promised the families a second visit and after talking to them, she was shocked how 80-90 villagers were being harassed by the authorities. She alleged that several women were booked under Goonda Act.
When told that the Yogi government was charging the Congress and opposition for the massacre, Priyanka said that there was nothing new as the BJP always did the same.
“It is the responsibility of the government to do justice to the victims and not frame them up in false cases,” she said.
Priyanka stayed in Umbha village for around 90 minutes and later left for Varanasi from where she took the flight to Delhi in the evening.
Meanwhile, the BJP termed Priyanka’s visit to Sonbhadra a political stunt. Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma told mediapersons in Lucknow that Priyanka should be visiting Sonbhadra with a feeling of remorse as the incident was, in a way, linked to land acquisition done earlier by ruling Congress leaders.