It took 14 hours of walking over 15 km along marshy rivers, fields and jungles, changing half a dozen vehicles, hitchhiking in a state transport bus followed by a school bus, for Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Jayant Chaudhary to reach Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district – currently the epicentre of farm laws related violence. Chaudhary is the first politician to have met the family of a slain farmer in a village in Lakhimpur on October 4. LIVE updates
Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav have been protesting against the UP police for not allowing them to go to Lakhimpur since Monday, before finally getting permission on Wednesday. Chaudhary beat them all.
His was a ‘guerrilla’ journey that took nearly 14 hours, involved changing multiple vehicles as the police were chasing him, he hid his face with a gamcha at many locations to get past the police and reached Chaukada village in Lakhimpur on the night of October 4.
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“Idhar udhar ke raaston se gaye (he went through various paths). He changed vehicles, walked alongside rivers and finally reached where he wanted to,” RLD spokesperson Anil Dubey told News18. Birpal Malik, an RLD leader, offered more details on the Delhi to Lakhimpur journey.
Malik says when Chaudhary started from Delhi on Monday, he took the NH-24 and crossed the Hapur by-pass till encountering police presence near Pilkhuwa. “He managed to sneak past police there,” says Malik. A bigger police checkpost was waiting for them at the Brajghat toll plaza though.
“But here there was general public and our workers too. The public pushed past the barricades here realizing that Chaudhary was headed to Lakhimpur. Chaudhary after this said police must not be confronted and made a new plan to reach Lakhimpur,” Malik said.
First, he changed his car near Gajraula as its number had been noted by the police at Brajghat. He changed his route towards Amroha bypass, reached Pakwara and decided to enter Uttarakhand to take the route to Kashipur. Here, he took the bypass to reach Gadarpur and then Rudrapur in Uttarakhand near the UP border. But crossing into UP in his car seemed impossible.
“So Chaudhary just covered his face and crossed the border on foot like a common man. He walked about 3 km past the border point till another car of a party worker picked him in UP,” Malik said. In this car, Chaudhary tried to go towards Pilibhit but turned back realizing the police were on his tail. He ultimately took the Sitarganj route to proceed further in Uttar Pradesh then.
“Here near the fields, he again changed his vehicle as the previous one was also being tracked by the cops. He finally arrived at the Sharda Bandh Yojana (Sharda Dam) which is a 17-km long stretch. After going 7-8 km here alongside the dam, we realized two buses were stuck as police had dug up the road. Chaudhary then walked about 12 km alongside the dam and river,” Malik added.
Chaudhary then landed almost in the middle of the jungle before another party worker managed to get a vehicle on the other side for him. “He again changed his car en route, then took a lift in a roadways bus and also a small school bus, till he entered the Lakhimpur district,” Malik says.
It was late on Monday night when Chaudhary finally managed to reach Chaukhada village in Lakhimpur and meet the family of slain farmer Lovepreet Singh. He was the first politician who had managed to do so till Monday.