February 18, 2020
India Builds A Wall Ahead Of Donald Trump's Visit, Cutting Off A Slum From View

India is building its own wall, erecting a brick barrier to block from view a slum that President Trump will pass when his motorcade passes through the area next week, The Associated Press reports.

Trump is expected to make an official state visit to India next week, where he'll participate in what's being called a "Namaste, Trump" ("Greetings, Trump") event, in reference to the "Howdy Modi" visit the country's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, made to Houston last year.

During the visit, Trump's route will take him through the city of Ahmedabad, in Gujarat state. Specifically, his route will take him past a slum in which some 2,000 people live in densely-packed ramshackle dwellings, in squalor and crushing poverty.

And India is erecting a four-foot-high, half-mile-long brick wall between the road and the slum, effectively cutting off the slum's residents from the main road, as well as blocking the view of the slum from travelers on the road -- travelers such as Trump or Modi.

Depending on whom you ask, the wall is being erected either for security reasons or to block off the view of one of the more unpleasant realities of life in India from a visiting foreign dignitary.

Senior government official Bijal Patel takes the former view, saying that the wall is being built "for security reasons." However, she also conceded that the wall is "also part of a beautification and cleanliness drive," she said.

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 22: Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi and U.S. President Donald Trump leave the stage at NRG Stadium after a rally on September 22, 2019 in Houston, Texas. The rally was expected to draw tens of thousands of Indian-Americans and comes ahead of Modi's trip to New York for the United Nations General Assembly. (Photo by Sergio Flores/Getty Images)
Getty Images | Sergio Flores

Keshi Saraniya, a resident of the slum, takes the latter view.

"Since they are spending so much money on this wall, why not use that to improve our slum and provide better facilities for us. Why are they hiding us poor people?," Saraniya said.

Meanwhile, in another area of the city, officials are taking on the issue of Trump possibly seeing poverty-stricken people in a more direct way.

In a slum near the cricket stadium during which part of next week's state visit is to take place, government officials gave eviction notices to 45 families.

Resident Sanjay Patani, whose family has been living in the slum for the past 20 years, calls it an injustice.

"Now we are suddenly being told to vacate because some important leader is visiting this city for a day. This is injustice," Patani said.

Trump's Indian visit comes as the two countries are in the midst of a trade dispute. Further, notes writer Ajit Solanki, Trump likely hopes that this visit will help him resonate with Indian-American voters back home.