A group of ‘sadhus’ (saints) was in for a rude shock on Thursday when they were denied entry to the Visitor’s Gallery of the Lok Sabha despite having valid passes.
As it turns out, the ‘sadhus’ became victims of tightened security norms that have been put in place at the Parliament house after the Pathankot terror incident in January this year.
Security personnel manning entry gates blocked the entry of the saffron-clad delegation unless their members agreed to take off the metal amulets and ‘rudraksha’ necklaces around their necks.
Taking the demand as an “insult” to their religious beliefs, the ‘sadhus’ left the Parliament house in a huff.
“The security personnel have insulted the ‘sadhu samaj’ (society of saints),” said Basavaraju, coordinator of the delegation of the ‘Rashtriya Shivacharya Parishad’, an association of Lingayat caste saints of Karnataka.
Basavaraju even asked whether such “shabby treatment” had been meted out to the delegation because their visit had been facilitated by Congress leader M Mallikarjuna Kharge.
Kharge himself arrived at the spot but expressed his helplessness. Asked if he would take up the matter with the Lok Sabha Speaker, he said, “The Speaker does not listen to us.”
“We will meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi to inform her about today’s unfortunate incident,” Parishad president Renuka Shivacharya Swamiji said.
“The saints could have been permitted entry as an exceptional case but officials were only following the rules. No item that can be thrown is permitted to be carried inside the Visitor’s Gallery,” said Yogesh Deshmukh, joint secretary (security), at Parliament house.