Times impact: President's Bodh Gaya visit cancelled for propriety reasons

Written By kom nampultig on Jumat, 17 Oktober 2014 | 08.20

GAYA: President Pranab Mukherjee's Bodh Gaya visit, earlier scheduled for November 1, 2014 stands cancelled, apparently in view of the propriety issue raised by the TOI.

The President was to participate in a function organised by the Bodh Gaya-based Bangladesh monastery. The TOI raised the propriety issue as the Bangladesh monastery in Bodh Gaya was built in alleged violation of the building construction laws and monastery officials were facing criminal charges for unlawful activities, including preventing the officials of the law enforcing agencies from entering the monastery premises to execute the ban imposed on the construction work.

The Gaya DM office has received a formal two line communication regarding the cancellation of the President's visit. While confirming the receipt of the visit cancellation communication, the Gaya DM did not reveal anything more on the issue.

According to sources, though Rashtrapati Bhavan has not formally given any reason for the visit cancellation, propriety issued raised by the TOI and vetted by several government agencies including central intelligence agencies finally tilted the balance against the all important visit.

The case against monastery officials was instituted in the Bodh Gaya police station on December 20, 2013. The case was lodged in the police station on the basis of a written complaint made by Sanjay Lal, executive officer of the local municipal body.

Asked about the status of the case, a senior police officer told TOI that investigation of the case was in progress.

In view of the recommendation of the Unesco, construction activity stands prohibited in a 500-metre radius from the outer wall of the Buddha shrine. The height of buildings stands limited to three metres in the area between 500-1000 metres of the shrine outer wall and no construction beyond a height of 10 metres was permissible in the area between 1000-2000 metres of the shrine.

The Unesco made the recommendation while granting World Heritage Site status to Buddha shrine in June 2002. The Bangladesh monastery falls in the prohibited zone, maintain municipal officials who got the case instituted in the police station.

Bodh Gaya watchers recall two similar situations in which VVIPs refrained from visiting disputed sites. During his 2004 visit, President Abdul Kalam, known for his affinity with children, wanted to visit an orphanage located in Cherki village of the district. The then President was advised against the orphanage visit as the orphanage was involved in some land dispute. Again a couple of years back, Srilankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa cancelled the foundation laying schedule in Bodh Gaya, on account of the questionable nature of land on which construction activity was to take place.

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