Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel began a sit-in protest outside the Lucknow airport this afternoon as he was stopped by the state police amid widespread demonstrations against eight deaths on Sunday in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur district, about 130 km away.
Mr Baghel said he wanted to meet Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who has been in police custody since yesterday in Sitapur. She said she was "illegally" arrested when she was on her way to Lakhimpur to meet those affected by Sunday's violence while daring the UP government to keep her in custody "indefinitely".
"I came to Lucknow to meet Priyanka Gandhi ji at Sitapur. But I am not being allowed to leave the airport," the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister said.
In a tweet, the 60-year-old leader wrote in Hindi: "Without any order, I am being stopped outside the Lucknow airport."
The photo he shared shows him in a white kurta-pyjama, sitting on the floor, surrounded by cops and his guards who are looking at him.
The Congress leader also shared a nearly one-minute long video where he can be seen questioning the officials. "Dhara 144 to Lakhimpur me hai. Hum Lakhimpur to jaa nahi rahe hain. Problem kya hai? (Prohibitory orders are in Lakhimpur, but we are not going there. So what's the problem)," he asks a cop.
बिना किसी आदेश के मुझे लखनऊ एयरपोर्ट से बाहर जाने से रोका जा रहा है। pic.twitter.com/4wwslm9bZr— Bhupesh Baghel (@bhupeshbaghel) October 5, 2021
In Lakhimpur, a protest by farmers against the BJP turned violent on Sunday when eight people - including four farmers - were killed as a car ran over them.
A murder case was filed amid outrage and Union Minister Ajay Mishra's son, Ashish, is the only accused named. Farmers alleged he was driving the car.
Many opposition leaders have been stopped from going to the UP district since Sunday.
"Padiye...padiye (please read)," Mr Baghel is seen saying in the clip, telling another cop who starts reading an order amid the conversation.
"Humko kyun roka ja raha hai? Main aapke Lakhimpur nahi ja raha hun (Why are we being stopped. I am not going to your Lakhimpur)," he again says. To this, the officials reply that large gatherings are also banned in Lucknow.
This was the second consecutive day that the Congress leader hit out at the Yogi Adityanath government over his UP visit. On Monday, he said, he was not allowed to land in Lucknow. Just last week, the Congress gave a key election role to Mr Baghel in UP - that of a senior observer.
The BJP is facing criticism over the Lakhimpur deaths ahead of the state elections due next year. Haryana, Punjab and Delhi also saw demonstrations on Monday.
In the state capital, former UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was yesterday detained outside his home when he was protesting the Lakhimpur deaths.