Congress general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Sunday met Nishad community members in Prayagraj and promised them “legal help” in cases related to a scuffle with the police and damage to their boats on February 5.
A case under rioting, attempt to murder and illegal mining charges was lodged against 10 identified and around 150 unidentified people after a clash between the police and Nishads in Prayagraj. The police have claimed that local residents attacked JCB machines to oppose the administrative action against illegal sand mining.
Several leaders, including BJP’s Piyush Ranjan Nishad, have alleged police brutality and claimed that the police damaged 18 boats owned by the community. Several members of the Nishad community were injured in the alleged police action. The police have denied the charges.
Speaking to people from the Nishad community on Sunday afternoon, Priyanka said, “You said you need help in courts. I will talk to Kapil Sibal sahib, Salman Khurshid sahib and Abhishek Manu Singhvi sahib. They will help you. Our Congress workers and leaders will help you here.”
She thanked the people for inviting her and said, “I am here to understand your problems. Last year, when I had gone for Ganga yatra, you were with me. I have been explained how you used to get allotments and that you had certain freedom. This happened because the government in the past understood your problems. The environment, rivers and jungles, and the people staying near them have the right to these resources. And you wouldn’t harm them (these resources) because your life depends on them. But the life of big corporations does not depend on these things.”
She said big corporations “don’t care about the harm” done to the environment and alleged that the government had formed policies favouring them.
Speaking on the farmers’ protest against the three new farm laws, she said, “You must have heard that a big movement is going on. What is the movement for? It is for this. Because their (farmers) issues are not being understood by the government. If the government understands, it is not helping. Because the farm laws will harm farmers and will be beneficial for industrialists and big businessmen.
Similarly, the laws being implemented for rivers is not for your or rivers’ benefit, but for the benefit of big corporations…”
“If you have been beaten up here, then the government, administration and police should be ashamed. And the police should think about it. The video I saw showed that a lot of people came here and beat you and your children up… Your boats have been damaged. We are with you… Their government was formed because of your votes, but they have forgotten this…” she added.
Nishads are a riverine community which has a sizeable population in Kaushambi, Mirzapur, Chanduali, Prayagraj, Gorakhpur, Sant Kabir Nagar and Maharajganj. They belong to the OBC category, and their support for the 2022 Assembly elections will be important for political parties.
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