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Rahul Gandhi not allowed to visit Assam shrine

Last updated on: January 22, 2024 20:51 IST

Rahul Gandhi's yatra was marked with high drama on Monday as he was denied permission to visit the Sri Sri Sankardeva Satra in Nagaon district and also from holding a meeting in the Morigaon district, triggering a strong reaction from the Congress leader who protested and asked whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi will now 'decide who will visit a temple and when'.

IMAGE: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi along with party general secretary K C Venugopal and supporters stage a sit-in after being stopped by police personnel from visiting the Batadrava shrine, at Haibaragao in Nagaon on Monday. Photograph: ANI Photo

Gandhi, who had left early in the morning for the Satra, the birthplace of 15th-century social reformer Srimanta Sankardeva, was stopped at Haibargaon following which he along with other senior party leaders sat on dharna.

Gandhi also claimed that the authorities didn't give him any reasons for stopping him.

"Will PM Modi now decide who will visit a temple and when?... We do not want to create any problems and simply pray at the temple," Gandhi told the police authorities and questioned why he was being stopped from visiting the Satra.


Later, party MP Gaurav Gogoi and Batadrava MLA Sibamoni Bora proceeded to offer prayers, prompting Gandhi to attack the state government, saying: "This is strange as there is a law and order situation in the area but Gaurav Gogoi and all can go. Only Rahul Gandhi cannot go."

The Congress alleged that Prime Minister Modi exerted pressure on the Assam government to prevent Gandhi from visiting the birthplace of the iconic saint and paying his obeisance.

Gandhi told reporters that he believed in the philosophy of Sankardeva as 'we, like him, believe in bringing people together and not spreading hatred. He is like a guru to us and gives us direction. So I had thought when I came to Assam, I should offer my respects to him'.

He said that they had received an invitation on January 11 but now 'we are told that there is a law and order situation. I don't know, there may be some reason but I will go to Batadrava when I get an opportunity. I believe that both Assam and the entire nation should follow the path shown by Sankardeva'.

Sankardeva is an Assamese saint-scholar, social-religious reformer, poet, playwright and a towering figure in the cultural and religious history of Assam from the 15th-16th century.

After Gandhi was not allowed to visit the Satra, and the Yatra was scheduled to resume at 2 pm, the Morigaon district administration in a letter to the district Congress organisers asked Gandhi to refrain from holding street corner meetings and a padayatra as a part of the 'Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra' as miscreants may try to disrupt peace and tranquility in the district.

The district administration said that based on intelligence inputs, it 'apprehends the involvement of miscreants who may try to disrupt the peace and tranquility of the district by indulging in anti-social activities taking advantage of two major events happening on the same day Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra and the Ram Lalla Pran Pratistha simultaneously'.

District Commissioner Devashis Sarma in a letter said, 'In the interest of Rahul Gandhi's safety and security, who is a 'Z plus Advance Security Liasoning (ASL) protectee along with our responsibility to avert any probable law and order disruption in Morigaon district, we request that the party refrains from proposed street corner meeting at the Bihutoli police point and padyatra from the Srimanta Sankardeva Chowk in Morigaon town.'

The managing committee of the Sri Sankardeva Satra on Sunday announced that they will not allow the Congress leader to visit the Satra before 3 pm on January 22 after Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma at a press conference requested Gandhi not to visit before the consecration of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

Gogoi, who visited the Satra along with the long Congress legislator, said that there was no crowd in and around the premises and 'it was absolutely empty'.

'Lies and rumors were spread that a law and order situation could have arisen if Gandhi had visited the place. The chief minister has stamped a black spot in the history of Batadrava and the legacy of Sri Sankardeva,' the Congress MP from Kaliabor said.

'We offered prayers of peace and harmony on behalf of Rahulji and all the pujaris who were present in the premises extended their blessings to him,' he said.

All India Congress Committee general secretary Jairam Ramesh said that the authorities had told Rahulji that there could be a law and order problem and he (Gandhi) offered to go alone but this, too, was refused.

Meanwhile, the state Director General of Police G P Singh had also posted on 'X' that the organisers of the Yatra are advised to stick to resolutions of the ASL since Z+ category prominent personality (PP) is part of the event.

Singh said unscheduled stoppages should be avoided and 'the ASL PP may be advised not to leave the vehicle without advance intimation to local administration and police. Other participants are also advised not to expose the PP through unscheduled stoppages'.

Later, Ramesh posted on X, 'Ninth day of the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra that began in such a painful and agonising manner with our basic rights curtailed' ended on such a high note at Nongpoh in Meghalaya.

'What a sight with the crowds cheering for Rahul Gandhi -- their soldier in Delhi!'

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