The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Priyanka relents to keep the law

Gauriganj (Amethi), Nov. 24: A showdown between the Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayavati was averted today when Priyanka Gandhi declined from performing symbolic shramdan for the reconstruction of a Dalit house in Pahar Purwa village of Gauriganj that had been razed to the ground by landholding Thakurs.

The district administration, which had imposed prohibitory orders in the area under Section 144 of CrPC, urged Priyanka not to violate the law and embarrass the local administration. District officials assured her that the Dalit victim’s grievances would be redressed.

“The prohibitory orders were promulgated to restrict my movement, but I do not want any conflict — especially when the local officials have assured me that the razed house will be rebuilt,” Priyanka told Congress workers at Gauriganj before returning to New Delhi.

However, before leaving, Priyanka shot off a memorandum to Uttar Pradesh Governor Vishnu Kant Shastri demanding an impartial inquiry into the incident. “I request you to conduct a probe at your level to ensure justice to the Dalit family,” the representation handed over to a district official in Gauriganj said.

Priyanka had yesterday driven to Sangrampur police station and insisted that an FIR be registered on the basis of victim Ram Bhajan’s complaint. She had also announced that she would lead a shramdan today to rebuild his house.

Earlier, in a statement by the chief minister’s office, Mayavati termed Priyanka’s move as “political drama”. She alleged that members of the complainant’s Kori community — a scheduled caste — had forcibly taken possession of a piece of land belonging to Thakur Babban Singh and the local administration had only helped the latter regain it.

“This is for you to judge,” said Priyanka when told the chief minister’s statement. She distributed copies of a certificate issued by the local administration in which the Dalit was shown to be living on the land since 1971.

“Priyankaji has won a major battle against Mayavati by exposing how the Dalits were being treated under her regime,” said Congress legislature party leader Pramod Tiwari at the end of her Amethi visit.

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