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Rahul Gandhi leaves for Saharanpur, authorities say won’t let him in

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has left New Delhi for Saharanpur but district authorities say political visits will be allowed only after normalcy is restored

india Updated: Jun 13, 2017 09:45 IST
Gulam Jeelani and Umesh Raghuvanshi
Gulam Jeelani and Umesh Raghuvanshi
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Rahul Gandhi,Saharanpur,Uttar Pradesh
The Uttar Pradesh government rushed senior officials to a checkpost at Saharanpur district border to prevent Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi from entering the region torn by caste violence.(Gulam Jeelani/HT Photo)

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi set off for the caste clash-affected areas of Saharanpur on Saturday but authorities say they will stop him from entering the district.

Sate home secretary Mani Prasad Mishra said the district administration will not allow Rahul into the district.

The 45-year-old Congress leader is expected to reach Saharanpur in the afternoon and head towards the affected villages. “We are going ahead as planned,” said Sashi Wali, Saharanpur district Congress chief.

The Congress vice president is planning to visit Shabbirpur village in the district and meet the Dalit families whose houses had been burnt allegedly by upper caste Thakur men. Rahul is also scheduled to visit a hospital to meet the injured villagers.

The state government rushed senior officials to a checkpost at Saharanpur district border to prevent Gandhi from entering the region .State home secretary Mani Shankar Mishra, additional director general Aditya Mishra and Saharanpur district magistrate PK Pandey were present at the barricade.

“Gandhi will not be allowed to enter Saharanpur. Section 144 is in place in the district. We will request him to not go ahead,” said Mishra

The district administration is not taking any chances. Four companies of Rapid Action Force have been deployed by the Centre, apart from hundreds of state police personnel.

The administration fears the law and order situation will worsen if high-profile politicians are allowed to visit the areas. A Dalit man was killed and eight injured in clashes after a rally by Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati last Tuesday.

Congress’s Rajya Sabha MP PL Punia was denied permission to visit the affected areas on Thursday.

District magistrate Pramod Singh said political visits will be allowed only after normalcy is restored.

In what is seen as the first big challenge for chief minister Yogi Adityanath, clashes between Dalits and Thakurs have left three dead and many injured over the past two weeks as the administration struggles to control the situation. Improving law and order in the state was one of BJP’s poll -poll promises.

Caste and communal lines run deep across the sensitive region in western UP where a mahapanchayat in 2013 led to Hindu-Muslim clashes in Muzaffarnagar, leaving more than 60 people dead and thousands displaced.

First Published: May 27, 2017 10:36 IST