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Adityanath lunches with Dalits after caste tensions

PTI | Gorakhpur (UP) |

In a conciliatory move following recent caste tensions, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday had lunch with Dalits and also unveiled a statue of B R Ambedkar during his visit here.

The chief minister had lunch with Dalits at Harmanpur village in Kampierganj area, where he also unveiled a statue of Ambedkar.

At the programme, over a 100 people participated, including 80 Dalits, and the chief minister urged the gathering to take the Dalits along.

The state government has faced criticism in the wake of tensions between upper castes and Dalits that have led to violence in UP, three months after the BJP's stunning victory in the Assembly polls.

The Congress accused the UP government of practising untouchability after reports emerged last month that the state administration distributed soap and shampoo to Musahar Dalit families ahead of a public meeting with Adityanath.

Earlier, Adityanath said that the temple town here will soon have air connectivity with Mumbai and Nepal's capital Kathmandu.

He said this after inaugurating the new terminal at Gorakhpur airport.

Emphasising on the importance of regional air connectivity, he said the priority of the state government is to start flight services to places like Allahabad, Bareilly, Kanpur, Jhansi and Faizabad.

"From development point of view, it is important that districts in Uttar Pradesh have low-cost air connectivity with the rest of the country and inauguration of this terminal is an effort in that direction," Adityanath said.

"Soon, air service from Gorakhpur to Mumbai and Kathmandu will be started," the chief minister said.

He said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is committed to providing cheap aviation services to citizens, adding "His dream is that even a poor person should fly in an aeroplane".

Union minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha, who was also present on the occasion, said, "Another addition has been made to the developmental programmes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi".

He also asked officials to start construction of the second terminal of Gorakhpur airport at the earliest.