Congress party's general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Sunday reached Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh to extend support to boatmen who were allegedly harassed by local police.
Priyanka was seen interacting with the villagers and members of the fisherman community.
Earlier, she had travelled in Sujit Nishad's boat after she took a holy dip at the Sangam, a confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati river, on Mauni Amavasya where she had performed puja. She had later posted a video where she was seen assisting Nishad in rowing the boat.
Nishad had informed Priyanka about issues that boatmen belonging to the Nishad community were facing, including brutality against them by police whom he alleged had destroyed their boats. The boatman requested her assistance in raising their voices against the oppression to which she agreed, party sources said.
Sujit had said that several boats belonging to the Nishad community, an OBC (other backward class) caste, were damaged by police and administrative officials.
The Uttar Pradesh government banned the use of boats in sand mining across the state on 24 June 2019. Suddenly millions of Nishads became unemployed. So there is anger among the caste. Lakhs of Nishads depend on rivers for their livelihood in Uttar Pradesh.
In 2013, the NGT prohibited the extraction of sand from rivers using machines, but mining companies continue to extract it with Pokeland machines and the government levies tax.
There has been a dispute between the mining mafia and Nishads in and around Ghurpur for about 15 years. Nishads have been in conflict with the police over it.
In the Banswar village near Ghurpur, on January 30, there was Raj Contract which has now been shut down. On February 4, some people complained that illegal mining was being done here. The police came, damaged 16 boats and 30 people were injured.
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