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Trouble brews ahead of car rally in Guwahati

G Vinayak in Guwahati | November 04, 2004 19:55 IST
Last Updated: November 04, 2004 20:01 IST

A beautification drive by the city authorities a fortnight ahead of the mega India-ASEAN car rally from Guwahati to Singapore has created more headaches for the Tarun Gogoi government than it had bargained for.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has called for a 12-hour bandh on Friday to protest against the demolition of a temple in the city as part of the beautification drive, while the influential All Assam Students Union has threatened to disrupt Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the state on November 22.

The Hanuman temple, which is said to be about 40 years old, was demolished by the Kamrup (Metropolitan) district authorities on Tuesday afternoon.

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Though the temple is not on the route that the rally will take, it is located beside Mahatma Gandhi Road that leads to the Raj Bhavan. Officials said a number of foreign dignitaries and heads of state of different ASEAN countries would be using the road.

About 25 houses constructed illegally on government land alongside the road have also been demolished.

"The road could have been widened even without touching the temple," said V Satish, Bharatiya Janata Party's secretary-in-charge of the Northeastern region.

The BJP, Bajrang Dal and Hindu Yuva-Chatra Parishad have also extended support to the 12-hour bandh called by the VHP.
The VHP has called upon the people to observe the bandh peacefully. "The authorities must tender an apology and rebuild the structure within 24 hours," a VHP spokesman said.

The district authorities have launched a massive road-widening drive in Guwahati since last week keeping in view the forthcoming event that is the first venture to connect the Northeast to South-East Asia since prime minister Manmohan Singh outlined India's 'Look East' policy in Bangkok three months ago.

Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Thursday appealed to the All Assam Students' Union to review its decision of disrupting the inaugural function of the car rally keeping in mind the opportunities that India's 'Look East' policy would throw up to Assam and the Northeast.


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