Police in Manipur prevent Rahul Gandhi from visiting the unrest-torn Indian state.
Mr Gandhi is in the state’s north-eastern region for a two-day visit to meet with individuals displaced by the violence and leaders of civil society organizations.
Manipur has been rocked by conflicts between the majority Meitei and Kuki communities for the previous two months.
So far, over 100 people have perished and nearly 400 have been injured.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with top government officials to evaluate the situation in Manipur, but he has been chastised for failing to visit the state or remark on the situation.
Home Minister Amit Shah visited the state about a month after the violence began to put in place a plan to restore normalcy, but new incidences of violence are reported almost daily.
Mr Gandhi posted on Facebook shortly after landing in the state capital of Imphal on Thursday morning that “restoration of peace is the top priority.” Manipur requires healing, and only by working together can we achieve harmony.”
However, senior Congress leader KC Venugopal quickly informed reporters that Mr Gandhi’s convoy had been halted by police in Bishnupur district while his route to Churachandpur town to visit relief camps.
“Police claim they are unable to accommodate us. People are on both sides of the road waving to Rahul Gandhi. We don’t understand why they have stopped us.” Mr Venugopal explained.
The convoy had been stopped for Mr Gandhi’s security, according to a police official who spoke to the Times of India. “We are concerned about the repetition of such [violent] events and, as a precaution, requested that the convoy stop at Bishnupur.”
The incident has elicited strong reactions from congressional leaders.
Mallikarjun Kharge, the party’s president, accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) administration of “using autocratic methods to stall a compassionate outreach” by Mr Gandhi.
“This is completely unacceptable and violates every constitutional and democratic norm.” Manipur requires peace, not conflict,” he said.
Mr Gandhi’s two-day visit to the state, according to Congress MP Jairam Ramesh, was in the spirit of his Bharat Jodo Yatra, a five-month-long unity march throughout the country.
“The Prime Minister may choose to remain silent or inactive, but why should Rahul Gandhi’s efforts to listen to all segments of Manipur society and provide a healing touch be thwarted?” he said.
Due to the unrest in Manipur, about 60,000 people have been displaced and are seeking refuge in 350 camps.
Mr. Gandhi’s visit coincides with the opposition’s demand that the state’s chief minister, N Biren Singh, a BJP member, resign.
Congress leaders have chastised Mr Singh for failing to “restore peace and normalcy” in the state and have called for federal intervention.
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On Tuesday, Mr Venugopal tweeted about Mr Gandhi’s arrival, saying the state had been “burning for nearly two months” and “desperately needs a healing touch so that society can move from conflict to peace.”
Since the riots began in early May, mobs have demolished many homes, churches, and temples, while the homes of some state ministers and politicians have been targeted and set on fire.
To quiet the violence, about 40,000 security personnel have been deployed.
However, the situation remains tense. Normal life has been utterly disrupted for the locals, who are subjected to curfews, internet blackouts, and random killings and arson.