AMN / Lakhimpur Kheri (UP)

Congress Stalwarts Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and other leaders met the family of deceased farmer Lovepreet at the Chaukhada farm in Palia at around 9 pm on Wednesday.

They later met the family of journalist Raman Kashyap, who was also killed in violence.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and Rajya Sabha MP Deepender Singh Hooda accompanied the Gandhi siblings during their meetings with the farmers’ families.

The entire route from Sitapur to Lakhimpur Kheri was heavily barricaded. The Lakhimpur district administration allowed only seven vehicles in the convoy to enter the district.

Former Rajasthan Deputy CM Sachin Pilot and Congress leader Acharya Pramod Krishnam, however, were not so lucky as they were detained in Moradabad while they were on their way to Lakhimpur by car.

Earlier in the day, AAP MP Sanjay Singh also went to Lakhimpur to meet the bereaved families.

Earlier, Rahul Gandhi reached the Sitapur guest house — where his sister and Congress leader Priyanja Gandhi Vadra was kept in detention — on his way to Lakhimpur Kheri from the Lucknow airport in his own vehicle. He had staged a brief dharna at the airport after initially being asked to travel in a police vehicle.

Earlier Gandhi had reached the Chaudhari Charan Singh airport from Delhi along with Channi, Baghel and Congress general secretaries K C Venugopal and Randeep Surjewala.

In a tweet, Surjewala announced that the Punjab and Chhattisgarh governments will provide Rs 1 crore assistance to the families of each farmer and journalist killed in the Sunday violence.

Television footage from the airport showed officials telling Gandhi to take the police vehicle, which he did not agree to and sat on a dharna there.

“We want to go in our own vehicles, but they want that we should go in their vehicle. I want to know why are you not allowing me to go? First, I was told that I can go in my own vehicle, now you are saying that you will go in a police vehicle. They are doing some mischief,” Gandhi told reporters.

Talking to the press at the airport, Gandhi said he or Priyanka being sent to jail was irrelevant as the main question was “people being crushed by criminals”, referring to the Lakhimpur Kheri episode.

“Those who should have been in jail are not being put in jail. We are being stopped from meeting the aggrieved families of the farmers,” he said.