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  • A hastily-erected wall has also been completed between the main road and a poor neighborhood, a move that has sparked numerous criticisms.

    A hastily-erected wall has also been completed between the main road and a poor neighborhood, a move that has sparked numerous criticisms. | Photo: EFE

Published 24 February 2020
Opinion

Crtiics claimed they have been threatened with retaliation if they comment on anything.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat geared up to welcome United States President Donald Trump  Monday, with the city of Ahmedabad receiving a facelift with walls erected to hide slums and impoverished neighborhoods.

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Trump's stop in the most important city in the western state preceded a two-day trip during which includes a visit to the Taj Mahal in the north of the country and New Delhi, where he will hold meetings on Tuesday.

Ahmedabad resembled an open-air temple dedicated to Trump and Modi, with dozens of posters bearing their images, including giant full-body portraits.

Dozens of workers were busy on Sunday putting the final details in place on the route Trump will take in Ahmedabad, where the asphalt is now a pristine black and the fences are freshly painted.

A hastily-erected wall has also been completed between the main road and a poor neighborhood, a move that has sparked numerous criticisms.

Local authorities insisted it had nothing to do with Trump’s visit and said the decision to build the wall was made two months ago. The city’s municipal commissioner Vijay Nehra said on his Twitter account that it was built to “prevent encroachments on footpath and road.”

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But residents of the neighborhood have a different opinion.​​​​​​​ Rajubhai Surani told EFE he was sad to see that “the walls are being erected for them, to hide the poor.”

Surani was one of the few who dared to speak openly to the press.​​​​​​​ Others claimed they have been threatened with retaliation if they comment on anything.

One resident, who only gave his name as Rahul, had a newspaper article on his mobile chronicling the pressures against them from members of Modi’s far-right Hindu nationalist party BJP.

Activist Aswathy Jwala, who started a protest after learning about the wall, has disappeared.

“The police took her away,” neighbors said, raising their hands with their fists clenched in a gesture of being handcuffed.

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