'I will raze your houses if you talk about the wall'

Donald Trump's visit: BJP leader threatens to raze houses if residents talk about the wall to media

Ex-Gujarat chief minister and NCP leader Shakarsinh Vaghela visited the locality on Wednesday afternoon and criticised the construction of the wall

A placard hangs as residents gather to support Aswathy Jwala (not pictured), a social activist, who is on a hunger strike to oppose the building of a wall along a slum area, that authorities said was as built as part of a beautification drive along a route, that U.S. President Donald Trump and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be taking during Trump's upcoming visit, in Ahmedabad, India, February 18, 2020. (Reuters Photo)
A BJP leader on Tuesday night threatened the residents of Saraniya Vas, where the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has constructed the controversial four-feet tall wall ahead of US President Donald Trump's visit, for speaking to the media and warned that their houses will be razed if they continue to give their opinions. The leader, who is also a local resident, took out a loudspeaker in the night to spread his message.
 
According to the residents, Dashrath D Saraniya alias Rana, a resident of Saraniya Vas near Indira Bridge, is associated with the BJP. On Tuesday night, Dashrath and four of his associates knocked on the doors of the residents holding a loudspeaker and warned that speaking to the media would invite trouble for everyone as some "sahebs" are upset with the media reports on the construction of the wall. DH has recording of his announcement that he made at around 10 PM on Tuesday night.
 
"I didn't threaten anyone but I did talk to people of my community. They are mad and have no brains. They don't understand anything at all. I only told them that this wall is good for us and wouldn't bring harm in any manner. We are living here for so many years and why should we invite attention to our locality?" Saraniya told DH when asked whether he had threatened the residents. He confirmed that he is a worker of BJP. His visiting card also reveals that he works for the BJP.
 
The AMC completed the construction of a 4-feet high wall at Saraniya Vas and covered it with plants, mostly conocarpus variety, which are as tall as 6 feet. The plants cover the wall completely if seen from the road-side. AMC commissioner Vijay Nehra on Wednesday tweeted tagging a media report saying that "The decision to build a 4 feet wall was taken two months ago to prevent encroachments on footpath and road. I had personally visited the slum and offered houses to the residents. @amdavadAMC is constructing about 1 lakh affordable homes for poor people."
 
65-year-old resident Maniben Saraniya said that "instead of building the wall, the AMC officials should have beautified our homes from the roadside and given us proper water facility and other amenities. Government has helped us constructing toilets in our homes but there is no water facility to use them."
 
Meanwhile, ex-Gujarat chief minister and NCP leader Shakarsinh Vaghela visited the locality on Wednesday afternoon and criticised the construction of the wall. He said that "If India and Gujarat is so developed, what was the need of such a wall? The world knew only about the Wall of China, now they know that India too has a wall."
 
According to reports, the AMC is spending over Rs 80 crore to hold the US President Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meet on February 24. The event comprises of a road show and the inauguration of world's biggest cricket stadium at Motera. The money is mostly being spent on beautification of roads, 25-bed temporary hospital and decorative lightings. At Motera stadium, Bollywood playback singer Kailash Kher will be performing after the meet to keep the audience of more than one lakh people engaged. 
 
Trump May Skip Sabarmati Ashram 
 
Although preparation are underway and security checks are also in place, US President Donald Trump, sources said, may skip his visit to Sabarmati Ashram founded by Mahatma Gandhi. Police sources said that Trump's personal security officers are not yet convinced with the security arrangements. 
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