Rahul stopped on Manipur CM's order, says Congress; police cites law and order issue

Rahul stopped on Manipur CM's order, says Congress; police cites law and order issue

IANS Photo

Imphal, June 29 (IANS) Congress leaders alleged that Manipur Police, under the instructions of Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, on Thursday stopped party leader Rahul Gandhi from visiting Bishnupur district to meet the violence-affected people.

However, Bishnupur's Superintendent of Police Heisnam Balram Singh said that they cannot allow VIPs like Rahul Gandhi to visit in such a place where the militants create law and order problems and they use sophisticated arms and triggering IEDs.

“Considering the ground situation, we stopped him (Rahul Gandhi) from moving forward and requested him to visit Churachandpur by helicopter. There is a possibility of attack on him along the highway through which VIP Rahul Gandhi is moving. Keeping his security and safety in mind, we've not allowed him,” he told the media.

The Congress leaders were stopped by police at Bishnupur, around 20 km from Imphal.

After a few hours, Gandhi, who was accompanied by party General Secretary K.C. Venugopal and in-charge of several northeastern states, Ajoy Kumar came back to the Imphal airport and took a helicopter to Churachandpur, one of the worst-violence hit hill districts.

Gandhi tweeted: "I came to listen to all my brothers and sisters of Manipur. People of all communities are being very welcoming and loving. It’s very unfortunate that the government is stopping me. Manipur needs healing. Peace has to be our only priority."  

Immediately after his arrival on a two-day Manipur visit, he left for Bishnupur and Churachandpur districts but the police stopped his convoy in Bishnupur.

A large number of women assembled in Bishnupur before Gandhi arrived at the place and they tussled with the police asking the security forces to allow Gandhi to visit the areas.

“He (Gandhi) is Indian, we are also Indian, so why did the police stop him from meeting us. He came to see our distress. The para-military forces are biased, they are helping the militants,” an agitated woman told the media.

The Congress leaders accompanying Gandhi also argued with the Bishnupur SP that the Congress leader came only on a peace mission to meet the affected people and families of the riot victims.

Gandhi was scheduled to interact with the civil society organisations, tribal and non-tribal leaders, as well as prominent citizens in the two districts -- Bishnupur and Churachandpur.

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge condemned the Manipur Police action.

"Shri Rahul Gandhi’s convoy in Manipur has been stopped by the police near Bishnupur. He is going there to meet the people suffering in relief camps and to provide a healing touch in the strife-torn state. PM Modi has not bothered to break his silence on Manipur. He has left the state to fend for itself. Now, his double engine disastrous governments are using autocratic methods to stall a compassionate outreach by Shri Rahul Gandhi. This is totally unacceptable and shatters all Constitutional and Democratic norms. Manipur needs peace, NOT confrontation", he said in a tweet.

Congress leaders Venugopal and Jairam Ramesh and state party leaders criticised the BJP government's action.

Ramesh tweeted: "It is most unfortunate that the Modi Govt is preventing Rahul Gandhi from visiting relief camps and interacting with the people outside Imphal. His 2-day visit to Manipur is in the spirit of the Bharat Jodo Yatra. The Prime Minister may choose to remain silent or be inactive but why stop Rahul Gandhi's efforts to listen to all sections of the Manipuri society and provide a healing touch?"

Venugopal said: "Rahul Gandhi's convoy has been stopped by police near Bishnupur. Police say that they are not in a position to allow us. People are standing on both sides of the road to wave to Rahul Gandhi. We are not able to understand why they stopped us ?"

"I do not know why the Police are not allowing us. Rahul Gandhi's visit is to meet the affected people only. We travelled around 20-25 km but there was no road blockage anywhere. Rahul Gandhi is sitting inside the car. I do not know who has instructed the local police," he told the media in Bishnupur.

Manipur state Congress President K. Meghachandra said that thousands of people standing on both sides of the roads greeted Gandhi when his convoy was moving from Imphal to Bishnupur but the police stopped him from meeting the distressed people staying in relief camps.

“Bishnupur SP and other district officials are blocking the roads. I have heard that there were instructions given by the Manipur CM to block the roads. They are politicising this. They are only saying that the law and order situation is not good and are not allowing us to move ahead,” Meghachandra told the media.

Ajoy Kumar said that Gandhi and Congress have always been raising the Manipur issue. “Rahul Gandhi has always said that the country needs to know the situation of Manipur. There is total law and order failure in the state right now. The double-engine govt has become the triple problem government,” Kumar told the media.

Noting that still people are being killed, he said: “We do not know who is conspiring against whom. The Prime Minister did not utter a single word about Manipur.”

The Congress has been demanding imposition of the President's Rule in Manipur to control the law and order situation as the party claims that the state's BJP government has completely failed to deal with the violence. Earlier, a few Congress delegations visited the state and later met President Droupadi Murmu in Delhi to garner support for their demands. The Congress leaders also tried to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi but he did not give an appointment.