Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were stopped today from entering Uttar Pradesh's Meerut to meet the families of those killed in protests against the citizenship law last week.
Around six people were killed in protests at Meerut against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) enacted recently.
Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had started this morning for Meerut in an SUV, followed by security vehicles. The police reportedly told the Congress leaders that they cannot visit Meerut, a town about 60 km from Delhi, as a ban on large gatherings is in place after the clashes. The convoy then turned back to Delhi.
"We asked the police if they have any order, they didn't show us any order but they just said you can please go back," Rahul Gandhi told reporters.
The Gandhis were told they could postpone their visit and try two days later. According to the Congress, they also offered to travel in a group of three people but were still not allowed to go ahead.
In a statement, the Meerut police said the Congress leaders had been told that if there was any breach of peace as a result of their visit, they would be personally liable. "After this, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi turned back on their own," said the statement.
On Friday, protesters in Meerut burnt vehicles and threw stones at the police, who used lathi-charge and tear gas shells to disperse the mobs. Internet was suspended after the violence.
On Saturday, Priyanka Gandhi had made a surprise visit to another violence-hit UP town Bijnor - where two men had died -- without being stopped. The Congress general secretary in charge of UP met the families of the two victims.
In July, Priyanka Gandhi, prevented from visiting Sonbhadra to speak to the families of firing victims, had sat on a protest for a day.
Some 15 people have died in violent protests across Uttar Pradesh against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which grants citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Buddhists, and Christians fleeing religious persecution in Muslim-dominated nations Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, if they came to India before 2015. It is the first law that makes religion a criterion for citizenship. Critics say the law discriminates against Muslims and violates the secular principles enshrined in the constitution.
The UP police are accused of firing at protesters in various places. For the first time, the police have accepted that they opened fire in Bijnor and that one of the two protestors who died in the town was killed in police firing.