Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said he would not enter Saharanpur after Uttar Pradesh authorities authorities requested him not to. The party’s leader said he would be allowed to return to the troubled region once the situation had stabilised. Last week, Saharanpur was on a boil following caste clashes between Dalit and Thakur communities that left two dead and many injured.
Earlier in the day, Gandhi had said he was setting out for Saharanpur even as the state police had denied him permission to do so, reported ANI. Gandhi was accompanied by senior Congress leaders Raj Babbar and Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has also been denied permission to visit the restive area, the news agency reported. Gandhi travelled to Saharanpur by road from Delhi after his chopper was denied landing permission according to UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s order to not allow political leaders from visiting the riot-hit district, reported IANS. On Twitter, a post on Rahul Gandhi’s twitter account says he was stopped from entering Saharanpur.
Speaking to mediapersons, Gandhi said the Uttar Pradesh government has failed to secure the law and order situation. “Everybody in country who is not powerful is scared and this is not the way to run a country,” Gandhi said.
Additional director general of police (law and order) UP Police, Aditya Mishra, had earlier told PTI that Gandhi would be stopped at Saharanpur border if he tried to enter the district. If Rahul still makes it to Saharanpur, legal action under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure will be taken, Misra had said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party called Gandhi’s visit to Saharanpur a “political tourism”. “He wants photo opportunities. That is what he is known for,” UP minister Sidharth Nath Singh said according to NDTV.
On May 21, hundreds of Dalits, led by the Saharanpur-based organisation Bhim Army, gathered at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar to protest against caste-based discrimination in the UP district. The UP government had suspended Saharanpur District Magistrate NP Singh and Senior Superintendent of Police SC Dubey on May 24 for not being able to curb the caste clashes.