New Delhi: A night after the Wayanad district of Kerala became the epicentre for mass protests over a travel ban on NH766 that passes through the Bandipur Tiger Reserve, on Friday former Congress president Rahul Gandhi expressed solidarity with the protestors.

The Wayanad MP from Congress met the youth protestors of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the Youth Congress, and Youth league on Friday morning and put out a tweet extending his support for them.

“I am in Wayanad, Kerala to stand in solidarity with the youth who have been on hunger strike, protesting against the travel ban on National Highway 766. Earlier I visited those who have had to be hospitalised, as a result of the prolonged fast,” he said.

There has been a decade-long tussle in Kerala over the permission for night travel through the Tiger Reserve after the Karnataka High Court in 2009 banned transport on NH766 between 10 PM to 6 AM to avoid casualties of wild animals.

Recently, the anger led to an indefinite hunger strike since September 25 rallying against the nine-hour travel ban that obstructs major route for economic affairs. National Highway 766, that connects Wayanad with Mysuru is the backbone of all inter-state activities of the dominant agrarian economy in the district.

Tiji Cheruthottil, the convener of the hunger strike told NDTV that it is not possible for the people to afford an alternate route and travel hundreds of kilometres more to reach their destination.

Locals and commuters have also demanded the construction of a flyover to avoid accidents involving wild animals.

It must be noted here that the current distance between Bathery in Kerala and Mysuru in Karnataka is 98 km, while the alternate route proposed would increase the distance to 217 km.