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Rahul Gandhi was stopped on his way to Churachandpur to visit relief camps.

New Delhi:

The Congress on Thursday hit out at the government after Rahul Gandhi’s convoy was stopped by police near Bishnupur in Manipur and accused the Centre of using “autocratic methods” to stall his “compassionate outreach” to those hit by ethnic violence.

The government action is “totally unacceptable and shatters all constitutional and democratic norms,” Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said.

Mr Gandhi was stopped on his way to Churachandpur to visit relief camps with police officials saying it was a precautionary measure to prevent the recurrence of violence. Later he travelled to a relief camp in a helicopter and interacted with people.

“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,” Mr Gandhi said on Twitter after meeting some victims of the violence at a relief camp.

BJP National Spokesperson said many civil society organizations had also given a call that Rahul Gandhi should not come to Manipur and do the work of inciting sparks here. 

All Manipur Students Union has demanded a boycott of Mr Gandhi’s visit, Mr Patra said.

Meanwhile, Mr Kharge reacted and said, “Gandhi’s convoy in Manipur has been stopped by 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 Rahul Gandhi. This is totally unacceptable and shatters all constitutional and democratic norms. Manipur needs peace not confrontation,” he added.

Congress general secretary, organisation, K C Venugopal, who accompanied Mr Gandhi, said, “After initially allowing us, our convoy led by Rahul Gandhi was stalled near Bishnupur on the orders of the Manipur CM.”

“Such moves are unfortunate and have no place in a democracy. At a time when the victims of Manipur are suffering, Rahul ji is in Manipur to deliver a message of peace and harmony.

“Manipur today needs a healing touch, not further acrimony. It is our constitutional right to travel across Manipur, interact with the people who have suffered so much, and build bridges between communities,” Mr Venugopal said on Twitter.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also said that it is the duty of every patriot to make efforts for peace and brotherhood in the country.

“Rahul Gandhi ji has gone to share the pain of people of Manipur and spread the message of peace. The BJP government should also do the same. Why does the government want to stop Rahul Gandhi ji?” she asked.

Rahul Gandhi arrived in Imphal on Thursday on a two-day visit to the northeastern state.

Police officials said tyres were burnt on the highway near Utlou village in Bishnupur district and a few stones were thrown at the convoy.

A police officer said in Imphal, “We fear repetition of such events and hence as a precaution, requested the convoy to halt at Bishnupur.” The Congress, on its Twitter handle, said Gandhi reached Manipur with the message of peace and love, and asked why the government was scared.

“The BJP government stopped Gandhi on way by deploying the police. Rahul ji has gone to Manipur with the message of peace. But they should remember… This country will run on the path of Gandhi, this country will run on the path of love,” it said.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said it is “most unfortunate” that the Modi government is preventing the Gandhi scion from visiting the relief camps and interacting with 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,” he asked.

Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala said Manipur is burning for the past two months and there is no rule of law.

“There is so much helplessness that no ray of hope for peace is in sight. Modi ji is ‘silent’, the Home Minister has shrugged off his failures. It seems as if Manipur is not even on the map of India for the BJP government. In such a situation, when Rahul Gandhi reached Manipur as a ‘relief soldier’ to heal wounds, he was stopped,” he tweeted in Hindi.

Speaking at a press conference, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said the prime minister will not go to Manipur and if Mr Gandhi goes to calm this atmosphere of violence and hatred, Prime Minister Modi will leave no stone unturned to stop him.

“What is the fear after all? Is it that your failure and insensitivity will be exposed or is it that he has enmity with love and peace,” she asked.

“What is the reason that Biren Singh is still the chief minister (of Manipur). Had it been any other government, it would have been dismissed by now. Rahul Gandhi is going to Manipur to ensure that people there do not feel alienated. He is going to spread the message of love, peace, healing and harmony. Why has the prime minister not spoken a word on Manipur? What are they scared about?” she asked.

The Congress spokesperson alleged the prime minister has time to address a party function in Madhya Pradesh, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has time to visit Bihar and BJP president J P Nadda to Rajasthan, but they do not have time to visit Manipur and wipe the tears of those affected by the violence there. “We condemn this. Stopping him is a sin. Is meeting someone affected by violence a crime and spreading brotherhood a crime?” she asked.

Nearly 120 people have died and more than 3,000 injured in the ethnic violence in Manipur since May 3.

Clashes first broke out on May 3 after a Tribal Solidarity March was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. 

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)




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