Lucknow rumpus: Congress alleges Priyanka’s manhandling, police deny

Priyanka Gandhi
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra after coming out of the residence of ex-IPS officer SR Darapuri in Lucknow on Saturday. (PTI)

New Delhi, Dec 28 : That Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra hitched a ride on a scooter, when the police tried to block her way to the house of a retired IPS officers in Lucknow on Saturday, has left a trail of “manhandling” accusations by the Congress and denial by the UP police.

It all started at Lohia Path in the UP capital when the Congress leader was stopped by the police. But she sped away on a scooter, driven by party Secretary Dheeraj Gurjar. Later they were again stopped at the Polytechnic Square, form there she walked to ex_PS officer S.R. Darapuri’s residence.

It was a dramatic scene at the Lohia Path with state party chief Ajay Kumar Lallu and other Congress leaders, like Jitin Prasada and Acharya Pramod Krishnam, sprinting behind her.

Priyanka Gandhi later alleged that she was manhandled by the police and “grabbed by the neck for no reason”. “The police stopped me while I was going to meet Darapuri’s family. The cops manhandled me. They surrounded me while I was riding pillion on a party worker’s two-wheeler. After that I walked to Darapuri’s residence.”

She was also prevented from meeting the family of Congress leader Sadaf Jafar, who has been arrested over anti-CAA protests.

Priyanka Gandhi was also heard saying, “Why are you stopping us? What’s the point of stopping us in the middle of the road.” One of her aide was heard saying, “Stopping the car in the middle of road could lead to accident.”

Later, Priyanka Gandhi’s office lodged a complaint with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) I-G Pradeep Kumar Singh over the alleged breach of protocol by the UP Police.

“Circle Officer of the Hazratganj Abhay Mishra entered without prior permission the premises at 8.45 a.m, where Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the protectee, was staying. He entered into a verbal duel with the CRPF personnel, in-charge of the protectee’s security, mere five meters away from her room,” her office wrote in the complaint.

According to the Congress, Priyanka Gandhi had a close shave when her carcade was blocked by the screeching police vehicles. When they could not stop her, more forces were called to prevent her from moving ahead. “There were only two women cops in the police team that tried to block her way physically,” the Congress alleged.

Launching a scathing attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress spokesperson Sushmita Dev said, “The UP Police physically manhandled Priyanka Gandhi. A female police officer pushed her. When she lost balance, she was grabbed by neck. Is it Ajay Singh Bisht (Yogi Adityanath) goondaraj in the state?”

Meanwhile, Archana Singh, the woman cop, who tried to stop Priyanka Gandhi, refuted the claims of “manhandling”, and said she was only doing her duty “rightfully”. In her report to the senior police officers, Singh said, “she had been assigned the duty of fleet in-charge of Priyanka Gandhi’s visit.

“The cavalcade left the party office at Gokhle Road, but Priyanka Gandhi’s car took another route from the 1090 traffic intersection towards Lohia Road. Following this, I inquired with her party leaders, but they refused to share her travel plan. Then Priyanka Gandhi herself started walking, leaving her car behind, with the party workers,” Singh claimed.

On the manhandling charge, Singh said, “Many fake information, like I grabbed her by neck and pushed her, being spread on social media are completely baseless. I only performed my duties with utmost sincerity.”

Earlier during the day, she attended the party’s 135th Foundation Day celebrations, here, and administered the oath of the Preamble of the Constitution to party workers.

She asked the party workers to follow the path of great Congress leaders who made the supreme sacrifice for the country, and also urged them to oppose all those who attacked the Constitution and its values.

“We are the voice of the last man standing on the edge of society. Love, brotherhood and peace are the facets of truth. We take pledge to stick to our ideology of non-violence and kindness. We are the Congress,” she said.

She will later meet key state party leaders to chalk out campaigns for 2020 and form an advisory council and strategy groups for this.

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