Locals, foreigners upset as Raj Ghat memorial closes for visitors ahead of Trump's visit
New Delhi, Feb 24: The entry of local and foreign visitors to Rajghat was prohibited on Monday ahead of the scheduled visit of US President Donald Trump to the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi, officials said.
Trump would visit Rajghat on Tuesday to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi. Those turned away from the memorial included a group of 18 tourists from Ireland, who 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," a security official deployed at the entry gate told PTI, adding the press was also barred entry. 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 by tankers of the municipal corporation while labourers were busy clearing stones, pebbles and even heaps of dust along the road.