Wall built before Trump's visit to India
A half-kilometer brick wall has been hastily erected in India’s Gujarat state ahead of a visit by US President Donald Trump, with critics saying it was built to block the view of a slum inhabited by more than 2,000 people.
“Since they are spending so much money on this wall, why not use that to improve our slum and provide better facilities for us,” said Keshi Saraniya, a slum resident. “Why are they hiding us poor people?”
Trump is visiting the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat during a two-day trip to India next week to attend an event called “Namaste Trump,” which translates to “Greetings, Trump,” at a cricket stadium. The event is along the lines of a “Howdy Modi” rally Trump hosted for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Houston last year. Trump will pass the slum accompanied by Modi, who is from Gujarat.
Senior government official, Bijal Patel, said the wall was built for security reasons and not to conceal the slum.
“In addition to security concerns, the wall is part of a beautification and cleanliness drive,” Patel said.
Several political leaders were quick to criticize the wall’s construction, questioning Modi’s development work in his own state. Modi was chief minister of Gujarat for 12 years before becoming the country’s prime minister in May 2014.
Authorities also served eviction notices to 45 families living in another slum near the cricket stadium.
Residents said they were asked to leave because of the upcoming event, which city officials denied.
“We have been living here for the last 20 years and now we have to go because some important leader is visiting this city for a day,” said Sanjay Patani, a resident. “This is injustice.”
Kishore Varna, a government official, said the land belongs to the civic body and the evictions were legal. He didn’t say why they happened just days ahead of Trump’s visit.