After haggling for over an hour over the mode of transport, senior UP officials finally allowed Congress MP Rahul Gandhi to leave the Lucknow airport.
A huge crowd had gathered at the airport to welcome the Congress leader who was accompanied by Chief Ministers of Chhattisgarh and Punjab, Bhupesh Baghel and Charanjit Singh Channi, respectively.
Less than an hour after the Uttar Pradesh government said Gandhi would be allowed to visit Lakhimpur Kheri – where violence at a farmers’ protest on Sunday had left at nie dead, security personnel stopped him at the Lucknow airport.
An angry Rahul, who was accompanied by Baghel, and Channi, sat on a ‘dharna’ at the airport.
“Show this scene… they (the UP government) said that we are free to go and now they are stopping us. What kind of permission is this? This is Uttar Pradesh government’s permission,” he told the media.
Asked whether he was on a dharna now, Gandhi said: “‘Kya karun? I will sit here’.”
Earlier, police officials told the Congress leader that he would be taken in their vehicles but he declined, saying that he would use his own vehicle.
Meanwhile, the two Chief Ministers have announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 50 lakhs each to the families of those killed in Sunday’s violence at Lakhimpur.