Protests in Rajasthan as Pakistani PM visits Ajmer
Jaipur, March 9 : A group of protestors waived black flags and shouted slogans as External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid hosted a lunch for Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf at Hotel Rambagh Palace here Saturday.
Ashraf arrived here Saturdday for a day-long private visit to the Sufi shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer.
"Despite India's strong protest against the beheading of Indian soldiers, it is unfortunate that the Pakistani PM is getting a VIP treatment in Jaipur," said an activist of Karani Sena, which is protesting against Ashraf's private visit.
Both the leaders shook hands and exchanged greetings before going inside the hotel, where security was beefed up. They were served Rajasthani delicacies besides continental food, hotel sources said.
The Pakistani prime minister's cavalcade left for Ajmer around 3 p.m. Three helicopters flew his entourage to Ajmer. The helicopters landed at Ghugra helipad.
"After staying for about 35-40 minutes at the shrine, he would return to Jaipur before flying back," said the official.
In Ajmer, police was facing a tough time in controlling the mobs. At the main gate of the shrine, three women wearing black saris started shouting "(Pakistani) prime minister go back" when they saw a Pakistani delegation. They were later removed by police, an official said.
Police have detained about 15 people, including eight Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists, as they were working out a strategy to organise protests from the Ghugra helipad near the town to the Sufi shrine, a senior police official said.
Earlier in the day, senior Rajasthan government officials received Ashraf at the Jaipur airport. He arrived in a Pakistan Air Force aircraft at around 11.55 a.m. with his family members and a delegation.
His cavalcade drove down to Hotel Rambagh Palace amid tight security.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made in Ajmer in consultation with the Pakistani security team. At least 2,000 policemen have been deputed in and around the shrine area.
Ten duty magistrates have been deputed to oversee the security.
The official added that the shrine will be vacated minutes before Ashraf's arrival.
There will be snipers on rooftops in the shrine area and also at the windows of houses lining the main road leading to the shrine. Police will be deputed every 50 fifty metres of the route.
The administration has ordered closure of the shops situated in the area.
"The shops will remain closed until he leaves the shrine," the police officer said.
Some groups have planned protests during the visit.
The Ajmer Bar Association has demanded that the status of "state guest" given to the Pakistan prime minister be withdrawn.
The association plans to show black flags to Ashraf.
The spiritual head of the Ajmer shrine Dewan Sayed Zainul Abedin Ali Khan has also created a stir by saying that he will boycott Ashraf's visit to protest the beheading of an Indian soldier at the border.
In a statement Friday, he said that he would not receive the Pakistani prime minister at the shrine.
"As the 'sajjada nasheen' (head) of this place, I have welcomed prime ministers and presidents of different countries and blessed them," he said.
"But I have decided to boycott the visit of the Pakistan PM because of the inhumane acts of beheading an Indian soldier" and killing another, he had said.
Pakistani soldiers had Jan 8 intruded into India in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district, killed two Indian soldiers and beheaded one of them. This led to escalation of tension between the two countries, but the situation eased after a flag meeting between the two sides Jan 14.