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Priyanka Gandhi Vadra detained on way to home of Agra Dalit who died in police custody

·5 min read

Senior Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was on Wednesday detained by the police in Lucknow while she was proceeding towards Agra to meet the family of the sanitation worker who died in police custody.

Earlier, Priyanka's cavalcade, en route to Agra from Lucknow, was stopped at Lucknow-Agra Expressway by the police. Police said that Section 144 was in force in Lucknow in view of the upcoming festival season till 8 November. The section empowers the magistrate to prohibit the gathering of four or more people. Police also said that the Congress general secretary was stopped as the Agra district magistrate had requested not to allow any political personality to go there following the man's death.

As soon as Priyanka Gandhi's convoy was stopped, scores of Congress leaders resorted to sloganeering against the Yogi Adityanath government and created a ruckus.

"Arun Valmiki died in police custody. His family is seeking justice. I want to visit that family. What is the UP government afraid of? Why am I being stopped? Today is Lord Valmiki Jayanti... PM Modi spoke big on Buddha but this is attacking his message," she tweeted in Hindi.

Earlier in the day, the death of a sweeper in police custody stirred up a controversy in Agra, invoking reactions from the general public as well as politicians in the poll-bound state.

Arun, a Dalit sweeper, was detained after Rs 25 lakh in cash was reported stolen from the 'maalkhana' (goods house) of Jagdishpura police station.

Police claimed that they had recovered some amount of the stolen money from the man, whose health deteriorated due to unspecified reasons during the night. He was taken to the hospital, where he died.

When the news spread in the morning, members of the Valmiki community gathered outside Arun's house and SN Medical College, where his post-mortem was to take place and demanded that the government pay two crore rupees in compensation to the relatives of the deceased. The family members claimed that Arun was beaten up by police, which lead to his death.

Meanwhile, leaders of Opposition parties attacked the Uttar Pradesh government, which is already on the defensive over a high profile case wherein members of the ruling party are facing charges of mowing down protesting farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri. Former chief minister and Leader of Opposition Akhilesh Yadav claimed that the theft was in fact carried out by local cops who tried to frame Arun for their crime. Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadhra slammed the government over the custodial death, saying the Dalit man was beaten to death by the police.

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Local Bodies Employees' Federation has said that it will not celebrate Valmiki Jayanti.

Senior vice president Vinod Allahabadi demanded one crore rupees and a job as compensation for relatives of the deceased sanitation worker and said that strict action be taken against the guilty policemen. Besides, a group of people from the Valmiki community reached the Jagdishpura police station and the family members of deceased Arun gathered at CO Lohamandi office.

In view of the possibility of ruckus, the local administration deployed personnel of the armed constabulary as a precaution.

In August this year, the Union Minister of State for Home, Nityanand Rai, had said while answering a question in the Lok Sabha that in the past three years, 348 people died in police custody in India, while 5,221 died in judicial custody. In the state of Uttar Pradesh, 23 people died in police custody and 1,295 deaths were recorded in judicial custody during the same time.

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) records reported that in the past 10 years, 1,004 people died in police custody out of which 40 percent died naturally or due to sickness while 29 percent committed suicide. However, these reports do not clarify whether these deaths were in anyway caused by police action, as alleged by family members in this case.

With inputs from agencies

Also See: Valmiki Jayanti 2021: Here are some wishes and messages to share with your loved ones

Valmiki Jayanti 2021: Here’s why the world celebrates the day

Priyanka Gandhi allowed to visit Agra after brief detention; to meet kin of man who died in police custody

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