UP rural polls violence: BJP leader, Priyanka attack Yogi Adityanath; Editors Guild demands strict action against official

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By PTI

BALLIA: Uttar Pradesh BJP working committee member Ram Iqbal Singh on Monday attacked the Yogi Adityanath government over the violence in the recently held elections for block panchayat heads and said the BJP is no longer a party with a difference.

Speaking to reporters here, Singh said, “This is not the BJP of Ataljee (late Atal Bihari Vajpayee). We used to know the BJP as a party with a difference. But now, we have deleted this.”

“Now, there is no difference between the principles of the BJP and other parties,” the former MLA said.

Singh accused the BJP of committing irregularities in the panchayat elections.

“The incident with a woman in Lakhimpur Kheri reminds us of Draupadi’s ‘cheerharan’ (disrobing). Using unethical means can fulfil the ambitions only for a few days, but not in the long run,” he said.

Singh also referred to the poll violence in Etawah in which a police official was slapped by BJP workers amid violence during the elections.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Monday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, alleging that the BJP misused power to “trample” on democracy in the elections.

In a Facebook post in Hindi, Priyanka Gandhi said that despite the “massive violence” during the block panchayat chief polls Prime Minister Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and UP Chief Minister Adityanath hailed the victory attributing it to their policies.

But, the BJP including the prime minister, remained silent on the “violence and hooliganism” during the elections, the Congress general secretary in-charge Uttar Pradesh said.

The people of the state saw the “violence and hooliganism” perpetrated by BJP workers and were angered by it, she said.

Priyanka Gandhi listed several incidents to claim that the violence was perpetrated by BJP workers to secure victory.

She alleged that by misusing power, the BJP tried to “crush democracy with its jungle raj” in these elections.

The Congress leader also alleged that in the Badpura block of Etawah, Superintendent of Police (SP), City, Prashant Kumar was slapped by BJP MLA Sarita Bhadauria’s workers, dozens of rounds were fired and the SP was heard saying on camera that the BJP workers had brought bombs.

Weapons, sticks and inflammable substances have been recovered from the vehicle of BJP candidate’s supporters in the first block of Sitapur, she claimed, adding that a young man has also been arrested.

BJP leaders created a ruckus outside the Shivgarh block complex of Rae Bareli, she alleged.

During the nomination on July 9 in Pasgawan block of Lakhimpur district, BJP supporters did not allow a woman candidate of the opposition party to file her nomination and her as well as her proposer’s sari was pulled and they were beaten up, Priyanka Gandhi alleged.

In her post, she also cited several other instances of violence and intimidation during the polls.

BJP leaders and workers resorted to violence in at least more than 50 places in the election in which the victory was hailed by the prime minister and chief minister.

The law and administration remained a mute spectator, Priyanka Gandhi said.

Everyone, including the prime minister and the chief minister, know that there is a lot of resentment among the people due to their anti-people policies in UP, she said.

“Now they have tried to hide their failure through kidnappings, shootings, bombings, beating police personnel, abusing power and mistreating women,” she alleged.

“But the question is, did the prime minister, who was congratulating BJP workers, not know how his workers pulled women’s saris and beat them up?” Priyanka Gandhi said.

“Did the BJP’s exploits of bombs, bullets and stone-pelting happen under the supervision of the prime minister, the chief minister,” she asked.

She also asked whether the BJP knows that its last days are near, and is therefore busy tearing apart democracy through violence.

The BJP on Saturday claimed victory on 635 of the total 825 seats of block panchayat chiefs in Uttar Pradesh, where the local bodies elections were held amid incidents of violence with the opposition alleging misuse of official machinery by the ruling party.

The Editors Guild of India (EGI) on Monday demanded “strict action” against an Uttar Pradesh government official for assaulting a journalist in Unnao district of the state last week.

“Concrete steps” should be taken to improve the environment for independent journalism in Uttar Pradesh, the guild said in a statement, adding that it was “deeply disturbed” by “the continuing trend” of heavy-handedness by the authorities in the state with respect to journalists and the media.

The statement noted that Chief Development Officer Divyanshu Patel assaulted Krishna Tiwari in Unnao on July 10 when the journalist was covering polling for the block pramukh elections.

The officer later apologised to the journalist for the incident.

“In a video that has gone viral on social media, Krishna Tiwari, a local journalist, is seen being beaten up by Divyanshu Patel (CDO), as well as reportedly some BJP workers,” the Editors Guild said.

The guild termed the incident “highly condemnable and actionable”, and said even though that CDO apologized to the journalists, the attitude of heavy-handedness by the administration is hurting the democratic rights of the media, which becomes all the more crucial given that the state goes into polls next year.

“EGI demands strict action be taken against the official and that concrete steps be taken to improve the environment for independent journalism in the state,” it added.

The editors body said the latest incident of assault on a journalist by a state authority has come against the backdrop of “increased persecution” of journalists in Uttar Pradesh, “as the administration has punished, penalized, and incarcerated journalists in an effort to intimidate them from freely reporting on crimes, state excess, and the management of the pandemic”.

Siddique Kappan, a journalist who was arrested while reporting on the rape and murder of a Dalit woman in Hathras in October 2020, continues to remain in jail under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, “despite several appeals by the family and the civil society to afford him a fair trial and treatment,” the EGI added.



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