Seeking to corner the Yogi Adityanath government over the Sonbhadra killings, the Congress on Saturday accused it of having helped the alleged perpetrators of the incident to gain control of the disputed land, which includes foisting several cases on the adivasis to pressure them into vacating the plot in question.
In the wake of AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's dharna in Mirzapur, after she was barred from visiting the victims' families, the Congress said that, instead of providing justice to the victims and their kin, the state government was arresting opposition leaders and protecting those accused of the killings.
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“Humanity was murdered in Sonbhadra. The poor and the farmers have been attacked. These killings should be considered a state-sponsored massacre,” said Randeep Surjewala, head of the AICC's communications department.
Surjewala hit back at Adityanath for claiming that the genesis of the land dispute could be traced back to the time the Congress ruled the state, saying it was the present BJP regime which cleared the transfer, on paper, of the land to the main accused Yagnadutt Bhurtia, the gram pradhan of Umbha village in Sonbhadra.
He claimed that the state administration, at the insistence of Bhurtia and his relatives, foisted several cases against the adivasis who have been tilling the land for generations, so that they can be pressured into vacating it. He further said that the petition filed by the adivasis challenging the transfer of land to Yagnadutt Bhurtia was dismissed by the district officials.
“Now, instead of providing justice to the victims, village Umbha has been turned into a cantonment, with heavy police presence and restriction on people visiting the place. In the eyes of the BJP government, these poor adivasis crying for justice are terrorists,” he said.
Attacking the state government for 'arresting' Priyanka, Surjewala asked, “Why is Yogi Adityanath so scared of Priyanka ji? Why is the BJP government so scared of her?”
Priyanka was detained by the state administration in Mirzapur yesterday as she proceeded from Varanasi to Sonbhadra to meet the kin of the ten Adivasis who were killed in the alleged shooting over a disputed land.
Asked if Priyanka's Sonbhadra campaign was comparable to Indira Gandhi's visit to Belchi in Bihar, post her defeat in 1977, to meet victims of atrocities on dalits, which turned into a comeback moment for her, Surjewala said, “People may compare. But I will say this much. If there is any atrocity, the Congress will stand with the victims.”