Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra yesterday met the family of the 20-year-old Dalit woman whose gang rape and murder last month in Uttar Pradesh's Hathras has sparked outrage across India and triggered days of protests.
The visit, involving a dramatic standoff with cops at the Delhi-UP border, was the Congress leaders' second attempt - the first, on Thursday, ended in a tussle with cops who refused to let Gandhi pass, citing orders banning large gatherings amid coronavirus concerns, and shoved him to the ground in the chaos that followed.
A similarly dramatic face-off seemed in store yesterday as Gandhi set off from Delhi at around 2.30pm in a silver Toyota Innova that Gandhi Vadra was driving. Their convoy consisted of around 30 Congress MPs, including Shashi Tharoor. Hathras is around 200 km from Delhi.
"No power in the world can stop me from meeting and sharing the pain of the victim's family of Hathras, "he said before leaving, while she told news agency ANI: "If not this time, then we will try again".
After skrimishes with police at the Noida-Delhi border, the UP government allowed Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and two others - KC Venugopal and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury - to cross.
Furious protests against the police and the government have been staged across the country, including one in national capital Delhi on Friday, where CM Arvind Kejriwal made an appearance and demanded that the four accused be executed. The Allahabad High Court has taken notice of the case and has summoned top officials of the government and police to appear before it on October 12. Five senior police officers have been suspended over their handling of the investigation.