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Dalai Lama’s visit to Maha Kumbh Mela called off

Staff Correspondent
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An evening at Kumbh:Devotees performing ‘Ganga Aarti’ on the banks of the Ganga at the ongoing Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad on Tuesday.- Photo: Brijesh Jaiswal
An evening at Kumbh:Devotees performing ‘Ganga Aarti’ on the banks of the Ganga at the ongoing Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad on Tuesday.- Photo: Brijesh Jaiswal

After three days of speculation and despite getting a security clearance, the Dalai Lama's much-anticipated visit to the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad was finally called off on Tuesday.

The Tibetan spiritual leader was to arrive on Sunday for a three-day stay at the mega event.

Senior Superintendent of Police (Maha Kumbh) R.K.S. Rathore said the reasons behind the cancellation of the visit were not known but all security arrangements were in place for the trip.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad Kashi region president Manoj Srivastava hit out at the Uttar Pradesh Government and said the cancellation was to hinder Hinduism-Buddhism relations.

The spiritual leader was scheduled to visit Lama Nagar, a camp built within the Vishwa Hindu Parishad premises in Sector 6, on Sunday and inaugurate an exhibition of Buddhist literature and Tibetan artefacts.

However, the visit was cancelled at the last moment for security reasons, said VHP president Ashok Singhal on Sunday while addressing the crowd at Lama Nagar.

In the absence of the Dalai Lama, Mr Singhal and “Save Ganga” campaigner Swami Chidanand Saraswati of Parmath Niketan, Rishikesh, inaugurated the event.The State Government had provided security to the Dalai Lama on Sunday after several requests from the Maha Bodhi Society, the organiser of his visit. The visit was then rescheduled to Tuesday after further clearance from the Ministry of External Affairs, according to the Maha Bodhi Society. However, despite their last ditch efforts the visit could not materialise.

The Dalai Lama would now be able to visit the Kumbh only after the Shahi Snan (holy bath) on Basant Panchami (February 15).

Meanwhile, the VHP is gearing up for its central advisory committee meeting on Wednesday and a Dharm Sansad on February 7, which is expected to draw some senior BJP leaders, including party president Rajnath Singh.

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