Authorities on Monday (February 24) prohibited the entry of local and foreign visitors to Rajghat ahead of US President Donald Trump’s scheduled visit to the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi on Tuesday. A security official at the gate said the press was also not being allowed inside the memorial.
A group of 18 tourists from Ireland was among those who were turned away from the memorial on Monday, reported news agency PTI. The tourists had arrived on a bus as part of a guided tour of the national capital. Visitors said they were “disappointed” because of the “unannounced” closure of the memorial.
“I was hoping to spend some time here. I had come here after checking on Google, which showed Rajghat is open today till 6 pm,” said Manish, a local, who first dropped his younger sister at her examination centre in Chandni Chowk.
“I thought while my sister took her board exam, I’ll stay here till 1 pm and then return home with her. On my way to Rajghat, I had also checked spending time at the Red Fort but that too appeared was locked down for visitors. It’s disappointing,” said Manish, who works for a private company in Gurgaon but had taken a day off.
Mohammad Taufeeq, a native of Amethi district in Uttar Pradesh, had arrived at the site with his daughter Alizah and nephew Adnan but the trio, like several others, was unaware of the entry restrictions.
“I have come to Delhi to stay for a few days for treatment of my daughter’s tumour at AIIMS. It’s a nice, sunny morning so I thought maybe the kids can spend some time playing and I’ll visit the memorial. But that’s not happening now,” he told PTI.
Several others, including women and college-going youth, arrived at Rajghat, on the banks of River Yamuna, but only to get turned away by security officials, who informed them about the closure.
“Visitors are not allowed today and tomorrow. Only officials working at Rajghat are being allowed,” said a security official deployed at the entry gate.
Heavy security was in place around Rajghat on Monday, even as dog squads and a bomb disposal squad remained at work inside the premises along with other personnel.
The municipal corporation was also leaving no stone unturned in preparation for Trump’s visit. The service lane outside the Rajghat was being cleaned while labourers were busy clearing stones, pebbles and even heaps of dust along the road.
(With inputs from agencies)