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UP CM Yogi Adityanath due to Visit Agra in bid for damage control

Amid the raging controversy over the Taj Mahal, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath is due to visit Agra on October 26. UP’s principal information secretary Avanish Awasthi said the chief minister will review tourism projects and other development work in Agra.

The CM’s visit to Agra comes at a time when BJP MLA Sangeet Som termed the Taj Mahal as a “blot on Indian culture” , evoking a strong reaction from both ordinary people and political leaders. His statement is believed to have caused considerable damage to the state’s tourism potential as the Taj is the most famous tourist destination, not only in UP but also India.

The chief minister said on Tuesday that the MLA’s views on the Taj Mahal were personal, and the state government did not endorse them. Yogi Adityanath said on arrest for maintenance of public law and order… Such duplicitous actions need condemnation from all quarters.”

“It only reflects the lack of will on the part of Pakistan to fulfil its international obligations to take effective actions against internationally proscribed terrorists,” they said, hitting out at the neighbour’s decision to now detain Saeed only under milder provisions for maintenance of public law and order.

Islamabad’s move is being seen by foreign policy-watchers as a blatant attempt to provoke India by virtually refusing to take adequate action against Saeed.

The horrific 26/11 Mumbai attacks in 2008 by Pakistani terrorists and the need to bring to book those who planned the attack from Pakistani soil has been consistently taken up by New Delhi with Islamabad but to no avail.

The dropping of terror provisions against Saeed is also being seen as a message from Pakistan to India in the context of the rock-bottom ties between the two nations and the Pakistan Army’s strategy of continuing to push terrorists into Jammu & Kashmir from across the Line of Control (LoC).

Since Saeed is viewed as a strategic asset by the Pakistan Army, the civilian government there seems reluctant to take action against him.

According to news agency reports from Pakistan on Saturday, the government in Pakistan’s Punjab province had withdrawn its request that day for extending the detention of Saeed under the anti- terrorism law.

On January 31, Saeed and his four aides had been detained by the Pakistani Punjab government for 90 days under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997. They have been under house arrest since then.

Explaining as to why the Pakistan government withdrew its application, a senior official of the Pakistani Punjab government had told a news agency that since Islamabad had extended the detention of Saeed and four others till 24 October under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance, 1960, it did not require to keep them under house arrest under the anti-terrorism law.

Tuesday that the monument was “built by the blood and sweat of Indians”.

He said his government has been working towards the revival of heritage structures across the state. He said every historic monument was being considered by the government for tourism.

The Yogi government had stirred up a controversy last month when its official booklet on tourism did not mention the Taj Mahal. Yogi Adityanath had said earlier that the Taj did not reflect Indian culture.

Later, however, his office issued a statement listing various schemes the state government had initiated in Agra, particularly at the Taj Mahal.

The chief minister’s visit to Agra next week is now seen as a damage control exercise on the Taj Mahal.

In a related development, senior Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan also  joined the controversy over Sangeet Som’s remarks on the Taj Mahal, and said that Parliament House and Rashtrapati Bhavan should also be demolished as they were “symbols of slavery”.

“Why single out the Taj Mahal? Why not Parliament, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Qutab Minar, Red Fort? They are all symbols of slavery”, Mr Khan told reporters.

Mr Khan said if these monuments were symbols of traitors, they should be demolished. “Zaahir hai, traitors jinhe kehte hain RSS ke log, agar ye traitors ki nishaniyan hain toh demolish kar dena chahiye”, he declared.


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