Imphal, June 29:
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the ethnically strife-torn state of Manipur faced a major setback as his convoy was stopped by the Manipur Police in Bishnupur on Thursday. The Congress party has accused the BJP-led government of deliberately obstructing Gandhi’s visit to the relief camps in Churachandpur.
The police halted Gandhi’s convoy at Bishnupur, approximately 20 kilometers from the state capital, on his way to the affected areas. He had earlier arrived in Imphal from Delhi. Heishnam Balram, Superintendent of Police in Bishnupur, explained the police’s actions, saying, “Considering the ground situation, we stopped Rahul Gandhi and advised him to fly to Churachandpur. There is a possibility of a grenade strike along the highway he was traveling, and we are concerned about his protection and safety.”
In response, the Congress party claimed that the BJP governments at both the federal and state levels were employing “autocratic methods” to hinder Gandhi’s visit. Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge expressed his disapproval on Twitter, stating, “The ‘double-engine disastrous governments’ are resorting to autocratic means to impede Shri Rahul Gandhi’s compassionate outreach. This is completely unacceptable and violates all constitutional and democratic principles.”
Okram Ibobi Singh, the Congress Legislature Party Leader, revealed that the police had given them the option to travel to Churachandpur either by road or helicopter, and they had chosen the road route. Singh added, “If the government has denied us the right to go by road, we will go by helicopter earlier, and this situation will never happen.”
Keisham Meghachandra, the state president of the Congress party, alleged that Chief Minister N. Biren Singh had ordered the convoy’s halt because “everyone was welcoming” Gandhi. The ongoing riots since early May have resulted in the destruction of numerous homes and temples. Even the residences of some state ministers and legislators have been attacked and set on fire. To control the violence, nearly 40,000 security personnel have been deployed, yet the situation remains tense with curfews, internet outages, and sporadic incidents of killings and arson.