Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Thursday met the family of the man who died during the January 26 protests in Delhi and said the government should repeal the new agri-marketing laws instead of branding farmers "terrorists" and their agitation a "political conspiracy".
She attended a prayer ceremony for Navreet Singh at Dibdiba village in Rampur district, travelling there from Delhi along with some other party leaders in a show of solidarity with farmers protesting over the laws.
Meeting reporters there, she asked why Prime Minister Narendra Modi had not visited the sites on Delhi's border where lakhs of protesting farmers are camping.
Lakhs of farmers are sitting on the border for two months. Has he no desire to meet them? How far is the border from the Prime Minister's residence? Does the PM have so much ego that he cannot go there in a vehicle, she asked.
If there is any bigger wrong other than the three farm laws, which the government should take back but is not doing so, it is that martyrs are being branded terrorists and the farmers' agitation is seen as a political conspiracy," she said after the antim ardas prayers.
The Congress general secretary said those who raise their voice are called names. But it is never said come and tell us about the pain in your heart as you are our countrymen."
Gandhi said soldiers on the country's borders are the sons of farmers. Terming farmers terrorists is a big sin, which should neither be committed by our prime minister, nor by his government and also not by the media.
Navreet Singh died after his tractor overturned during the farmers' tractor parade in the national capital on January 26.
Several farmers clashed with police that day, violating the undertaking their leaders had given on holding the tractor parade only on Delhi's periphery.
"I have come here to tell this family that you are not alone. Every single countryman is with you, be it of any religion, and farmers from every corner of the country are with you, and we are with you," she said.
In an indirect reference to the assassinations of her father Rajiv Gandhi and grandmother Indira Gandhi, she said, From my own experience, I can say that a martyrs' family can never forget his martyrdom.
On another personal note, she said, Navreet was 25-year-old and my son is 20.
Apparently referring to the barricading of the protest sites at Delhi's borders, she said this was not the occasion for any political talk, "but we cannot tolerate such atrocities.
The fact is that this is not a political agitation but an actual agitation of farmers and every citizen," she said.
The Congress leader said the fight will continue till the "black laws are repealed.
"I want to tell the grandfather of the dead farmer that we will not allow his grandson's martyrdom go in vain. I have come here to tell you this, Gandhi said
Asked about the allegation that the farmer was killed in police firing, she said, The family is very clear and wants a judicial and an impartial inquiry into the incident.
Reminded about Modi's assurance that the government was just a phone call away and still open to talks, she said at times those in power attain so much ego that they don't connect with the people.
It seemed that those around the prime minister are not informing him about the reality, she claimed.
Uttar Pradesh party unit chief Ajay Kumar Lallu was among those accompanying Priyanka Gandhi.
On the way to Rampur, three or four vehicles at the end of the Congress leader's cavalcade hit into each other near Gajraula in Hapur district. A party spokesperson said nobody was hurt.
A video clip showing Priyanka Gandhi wiping the fogged windscreen of her car also surfaced on social media.
In October, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi had travelled to Hathras to meet the family of a woman who was killed after being allegedly raped.
The Uttar Pradesh Police had initially tried to stop them from travelling through the state, citing prohibitory orders.
Farmer unions claim the new laws will weaken the minimum support price (MSP) system. The Centre says the laws only offer more options to farmers to sell their produce.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)