Noida: Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were detained by the Uttar Pradesh police personnel on Thursday while they were walking towards Hathras to meet the family of the rape victim.
Sources said they were taken away in a police jeep and kept in a guest house for sometime after which they were released. They are now headed back towards Delhi escorted by the UP police, they said.
Rahul Gandhi also fell down in the melee after police tried to stop him and his supporters from proceeding on the Yamuna Expressway. The Gandhis were then taken away in a police jeep.
"Shri Rahul Gandhi, Smt Priyanka Gandhi and senior Congress leaders have been arrested by the UP police," the Congress said on Twitter, using the hashtag "JusticeForIndiasDaughters".
Rahul Gandhi earlier questioned senior UP cops under which law was he being stopped by them as he wanted to walk alone towards Hathras to meet the rape victim's family.
"Can you tell me under which law can you stop me from marching towards Hathras," he told the cops.
"I want to go alone to Hathras and on what basis can you arrest me," he added, to which the cops told him that he had violated Section 188 of the IPC of disobeying the orders promulgated by the government during the pandemic.
Rahul, Priyanka and other Congress leaders proceeded on foot towards Hathras to meet the family of the Dalit gang-rape victim after their convoy was stopped in Greater Noida by the UP Police.
The convoy was stopped near Pari Chowk, prompting party workers and senior leaders to proceed on foot to Hathras, which is 150 km away from here.
A large number of Congress workers from Uttar Pradesh accompanied the two leaders on their march towards Hathras. They also raised slogans against the UP government.
Talking to reporters while walking on the Yamuna Expressway towards Hathras, Priyanka Gandhi said Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath should take responsibility for the alleged gangrape of a 19-year-old Dalit woman in the district and strict action should be taken against the perpetrators of the crime.
The victim died in a Delhi hospital on Tuesday.
"Since our cars have been stopped, we will walk down to Hathras as we want to meet the victim's family. We want to express our condolences to the family," Priyanka Gandhi said.
"He (Adityanath) would have to do something for women's safety. We will continue to fight till the time he does something. The women in the entire state will fight as they realise that they are not safe and secure. Everyday such incidents are happening. Eleven rape cases are registered in Uttar Pradesh everyday," she said.
The Congress general secretary recalled that around the same time last year, her party was protesting for the Unnao rape victim.
Attacking the UP government for "not allowing the family to cremate the woman with honour", she said, "You claim to be the protectors of the Hindu religion, we are Hindus, but where has it been written that you cannot allow a father to lit the pyre of his daughter and not allow the family to cremate the victim?
"The incident was a big injustice. What the state government did after that was a bigger injustice," she said, adding the Adityanath must ensure that atrocities against women are stopped.
Ahead of the visit by Congress leaders, the Hathras district magistrate imposed prohibitory orders under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and ordered sealing of the district borders to maintain peace.
A 19-year-old Dalit woman was allegedly raped by four upper-caste men in Hathras on September 14 and referred to the Safdarjung hospital in Delhi on Monday with spinal cord injuries, paralysis and cuts in her tongue. She died around 3 am on Tuesday.
Her brutal death and subsequent cremation in the dead of the night in Hathras allegedly under police pressure on Tuesday triggered massive outrage across the country over the law and order situation in UP and over women safety in general.
Earlier, a Congress functionary said the Noida-Greater Noida expressway was barricaded by the police and scores of personnel deployed on the road shortly after the Congress leaders and workers entered UP's jurisdiction from Delhi.
Nearly a hundred vehicles were in the convoy that was stopped from proceeding, the functionary said.
Scores of Congress workers had also staged a protest at the Delhi-Noida border, raising slogans against the BJP-led governments in the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh over the gang-rape and death of the Dalit woman.
The Gandhis were joined by Randeep Surjewala, P L Punia, and UP unit chief Ajay Kumar Lallu.
When asked about the prohibitory orders placed in Hathras ahead of the Congress leaders' visit, Surjewala told reporters at the DND, Instead of stopping criminals, the Yogi Adityanath government is working on stopping Rahul and Priyanka and that is the question.
He also questioned the cremation of the woman in the dead of the night, saying it was against the Hindu traditions and was done without her family's involvement.