NEW DELHI: “As soon as our plane landed in Lucknow, we looked out to see it surrounded by policemen as if we were some terrorists who had landed. And were immediately surrounded as we came down with the policemen physically trying to restrain us,” Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi told The Citizen after a delegation of MPs was prevented by the Uttar Pradesh government from entering Lucknow to condole with the families who had lost relatives in recent police firing in anti-CAA protests.

Trivedi was leading a delegation of TMC MPs - Pratima Mondal, Md Nadimul Haque and Abir Biswas. The party had announced the delegation's visit to Lucknow on Sunday as a “humanitarian mission to be with the grieving families of those killed and also meet those injured in the incidents.”

Trivedi said he was astonished to see the policemen around the passenger aircraft as soon as it stopped on the Lucknow tarmac. He said a policeman in plainclothes even entered the aircraft. “When we got down the cops surrounded us and insisted we accompany them to a bus. We refused, and they then got physical including with Pratima Mondal. I shouted at them, and we pushed ourselves through into the passenger coach,” he said.

All the while he asked them for identity proof, for their names and they kept refusing saying, “we will tell you.” They were not wearing badges and ignored the delegation's, “your parents must have given you names out of sheer love, why don’t you share these with us.”

The policemen got into the passenger bus, and then asked all the passengers to get down keeping the MPs surrounded. “They then drove us as the sole passengers to an isolated spot, a building near a hangar and asked us to get down,” Trivedi said.The delegation refused, and when they did get off finally they refused to go inside the building but sat on the road in what Trivedi described as a “Gandhian satyagraha”.

“They kept offering us tea and placed this before us but we refused saying we will not even accept a drop of water as Gandhi did not against the British” Trivedi said.

The cops on guard got a taste of history when similarities between the day and the British Raj were recounted to them by the delegation, with Trivedi reminding them that a movement cannot be stopped when women and students come out on the streets.

The police then tried to get them to board an earlier flight at 5 pm but they refused saying they were scheduled to return to Delhi on a late night flight and this is what they intended to do. “You go and do whatever you have to, ours is a satyagraha and you need not worry,” Trivedi said.

The TMC has been opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act vociferously with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addressing any number of meetings daring Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah by name. PM Modi in his speech at Ramlila grounds in Delhi countered with a personal attack on “Didi.”

The delegation that was despatched to Lucknow followed worry and concern about the UP police action on protestors and as Trivedi said, “We were not going to shout slogans or address a rally, this was just to visit grieving families in Lucknow, but we were treated as if we were terrorists.”

He said that now Indians were being told by the government that ‘citizens’ had nothing to fear. “This is double speech, as what citizens are they talking about, the citizens they determine as citizens?” he added.

Trivedi said this issue would not stop here. “There would have been no controversy had they let us go into Lucknow meet the families of those killed and return. Now they have made it an issue. Their arrogance is unbelievable.”

Cover Photograph: View of the ground from the aircraft as the flight landed at Lucknow. Taken by TMC leader Dinesh Trivedi