Manipur: Rahul Gandhi's convoy stopped by cops amid 'security concerns'

Congress leader will take a chopper to Churachandpur

Manipur violence Congress leader Rahul Gandhi being received by former Manipur CM Okram Ibobi Singh at Imphal airport | Twitter

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi arrived at Imphal, Manipur for a two-day visit to the violence-hit state on Thursday. On his way to Churachandpur, his convoy was stopped by police in Bishnupur.  

Congress General Secretary K.C. Venugopal told ANI that they do not understand why have they have been stopped.

"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," Venugopal was quoted by ANI.

Gandhi was set to interact with people in distress in relief camps in Churachandpur district. 

"It is most unfortunate that the Modi Govt is preventing @RahulGandhi from visiting relief camps and interact 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?" tweeted Jairam Ramesh. 

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge also criticised Modi government for "using autocratic methods" to stall the outreach by Rahul Gandhi. 

Reportedly, Gandhi returned to Imphal and will take a helicopter instead of travelling to Churachandpur by road.

"Seeing the ground situation, we stopped him (Rahul Gandhi) from moving forward and advised him to travel to Churachandpur via helicopter. There is a possibility of a grenade attack along the highway through which VIP Rahul Gandhi is moving. Keeping his security and safety in mind, we've not allowed him," Bishnupur SP Heisnam Balram Singh told ANI.

Meanwhile BJP lashed out at Gandhi for his "irresponsible" behaviour. "I have always said, Rahul Gandhi and responsibility never travel together...Sensitivity is far more important than stubbornness," said BJP leader Sambit Patra.

"The situation in Manipur is due to the legacy issue, in which Congress has played an important role...All Manipur Students' Union during a press conference yesterday demanded to boycott Rahul Gandhi's visit and enumerated those legacy issues," said Patra.

He was received by former Manipur CM Okram Ibobi Singh and President of Manipur Pradesh Congress Keisham Meghachandra Singh at the Imphal airport.

The aim of the trip is to bring healing touch to those affected by the violence in the state, said senior Congress office bearer in Manipur. 

The ethnic clashes that broke out has rocked the northeastern state since May 3.

In over 300 relief camps, around 50,000 people are now staying in over 300 relief camps across the state. As part of his visit, he will hold talks with prominent members of the civil society organisations and community leaders.

"Rahul Gandhi will visit relief camps and meet people displaced by the ethnic clashes and also interact with representatives of civil society in Imphal and Churachandpur during his visit," tweeted Venugopal.

Ajoy Kumar, Congress in charge of Manipur, had told PTI before the visit started that "the government should listen to the people... The Biren Singh government should be removed."

Over 100 people have lost their lives in the ethnic violence between Meitei and Kuki communities in the northeastern state.


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