Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra reached Lakhimpur Kheri on Wednesday evening and met the families of farmers who were killed during Sunday’s clashes.

Rahul Gandhi reached Sitapur in the evening where his sister Priyanka was under detention for defying prohibitory orders to visit Lakhimpur Kheri. Priyanka Gandhi was released shortly and then accompanied her brother to Lakhimpur Kheri district.

The first stop of the Gandhi siblings was Palia where they met the family of Lovepreet Singh. Pictures shared by Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala showed the Gandhis meeting and hugging the victim’s parents.

From there, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi left for Nighasan tehsil to meet the kin of journalist Raman Kashyap, who was one of the victims. Their last stop in the district will be the home of Nachatar Singh in Dhauraha tehsil.

Meanwhile, Congress leaders Sachin Pilot and Acharya Pramod were detained by the UP Police in Moradabad when they were going to Lakhimpur Kheri.

“Farmers are being attacked, killed,” alleged Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, terming the BJP rule “a dictatorship”, before leaving for Lakhimpur to visit the violence-hit families. “We used to be a democracy. Now we are a dictatorship. 

For a while now the government has been attacking farmers. They are being mowed down, murdered. BJP Union Minister is being named along with his son. No action has been taken. Postmortems are not being performed properly. We are telling the government to let democracy work and not shut this safety valve, else there will be problems. We are going to the farmers to give them confidence that they can’t be run over by a minister’s son. We are going with a message of hope,” Rahul said.

He was accompanied by sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Punjab CM Charanjit Channi, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel and Congress general secretaries KC Venugopal and Randeep Singh Surjewala. The ruling party called Rahul a political tourist, saying “perhaps he has forgotten Emergency and the 1984 Sikh massacre.”

Congress-led Punjab and Chhattisgarh governments announcing Rs 50 lakh each for the kin of the deceased, the affected families spent another day awaiting justice. 

Over 72 hours after the incident, in which eight persons were killed on Sunday, no arrest has been made. 

Asked about inaction on the FIR that accuses the son of Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra of murder, Lucknow Inspector-General Laxmi Singh said a team had been formed and arrests would only be made after evidence was found. 

He was silent on remarks that the identity of the accused was evident in several circulating videos.

DG (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar later said all videos of the purported violence (including those showing SUVs mowing down farmers and others showing a section of protesters wearing Bhindranwale T-shirts) were being probed. 

The UP Government, the sources said, had sent a report on the incident to the PMO and Home Minister.

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra on Wednesday met Home Minister Amit Shah for the first time after a murder case was registered against his son for allegedly mowing down four farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri, the constituency he represents in Parliament. The meeting lasted 30 minutes.

Sources said Mishra, who had sought time from Shah’s office, neither offered to quit nor was asked to do so. He reportedly spoke of the Opposition “conspiring against the BJP”. Mishra attended office in the North Block.

Meanwhile, a media invite for an event scheduled for Thursday where Mishra was the chief guest has been “cancelled”. A media officer for the Bureau of Police Research and Development said the programme had been “put on hold” and the invitation “may be treated as cancelled”