Some of Chandigarh residents were seething with anger on Friday after they were unable to cremate their dead during a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi because a cremation ground was converted into a makeshift parking lot.
Mourners headed to the cremation ground in Sector 25 on Friday morning were denied entry for security reasons and sent to another crematorium at Manimajra.
The cremation ground in Sector 25 is located next to the venue where the Prime Minister was scheduled to deliver a speech. The sprawling cremation ground was converted into a makeshift parking lot for people attending the Prime Minister’s rally, local residents said.
A senior officer of the Union Territory’s administration said residents had been told to delay the last rites of the dead “for a few hours”. He said mourners could cremate their dead after the Prime Minister left the venue of the rally.
The restrictions evoked widespread condemnation from local residents, who accused the administration of harassing them.
“The administration could have at least given prior notice (about) the ban on entry to the cremation ground in Sector 25,” one resident said.
Tight security arrangements were put in place for the Prime Minister's visit. The Chandigarh Traffic Police ordered the diversion of traffic on key routes to be used by Modi's motorcade. Ambulances had to take longer routes to reach hospitals, including PGIMER.
The Chandigarh administration on Thursday ordered the closure of all state-run and private schools across the Union Territory in view of Modi's visit. Police rounded up a few Congress leaders on Thursday night to prevent protests.
Earlier on Friday, Modi inaugurated the new international terminal of the Chandigarh airport during a brief ceremony at SAS Nagar. The new terminal is expected to be operational by October 19, and all domestic flights to and from the city will operate from the existing airport until then.