Ajmer, March 9: Many people joined protests in this city ahead of the visit of Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. At least 35 people were arrested in connection with protests against Ashraf’s visit to the 13th century dargah of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti here Saturday.
There was a last-minute change in the route the Pakistani prime minister would take, to evade the protest by advocates. A curfew-like situation prevailed in the dargah bazaar since 2.30 p.m., and most roads were deserted after authorities evacuated the area near the dargah.
“We arrested thirty Shiv Sainiks and BJP members near the central bus stand when they came out on the road shouting the slogan: ‘Go back! Go back, Ashraf!’. They took out a procession on the road and threatened to jam the road while Ashraf was having lunch in Jaipur,” a police official said.
Four people were arrested from the main gate of the dargah, after they held up the Indian tricolor just when Pakistani officials reached the spot to check security arrangements Saturday afternoon. The protestors climbed the stairs of the dargah and hoisted the Indian flag in front of the Pakistani officials.
A group of lawyers arrived at the main gate of the dargah and held up black flags. Finding it difficult to contain these protests, the district administration changed the route of the convoy of eleven vehicles.
Advocates raised slogans against Pakistan and Ashraf, crying “Shame! Shame!”.
There were hoardings at Phuwara Coss Road and Bajrang Gargh, covered with black clothes. Protestors also put black flags on their houses, ahead of Ashraf’s visit. These were removed by the police just in time for the Pakistan prime minister’s arrival.
Looking to the protests in the city, extra police forces were called into the city. The dargah bazaar saw heavy deployment of policemen.
People were not allowed to open windows and gates facing the road on which Ashraf would pass. The administration also announced that people should not come out on the road until further instructions were issued.
After his visit to the shrine, the Pakistan prime minister left at about 4.40 p.m. He leaves Ajmer for Jaipur by helicopter.
From Jaipur, Ashraf will take a flight back home.