Indian PM’s historic PMB visit

2016-07-13 06:00
PHOTO: chelsea pieterse Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves at media as he steps onto the platform of the Pietermaritzburg station on Saturday.

PHOTO: chelsea pieterse Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves at media as he steps onto the platform of the Pietermaritzburg station on Saturday.

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AN excited crowd carrying Indian flags gathered to catch a glimpse of Indian Prime Minister Narendra
Modi in Pietermaritzburg­ on Saturday.

Modi arrived in Pretoria last Thursday for an official two-day visit aimed at strengthening relationships between South Africa and India.

After meeting with President Jacob Zuma at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Thursday, Modi flew to KwaZulu-Natal to visit Pietermaritz- burg­ and Phoenix in remembrance of Mahatma Gandhi.

Modi arrived at Pentrich station­ on Saturday morning, then travelled by train to the Pietermaritzburg station.

The 15-minute trip commemorated Gandhi’s attempted journey to Pretoria where he was kicked off the train at the Pietermaritzburg station, after refusing to move from the first class carriage to the third class carriage.

On a spotless station Modi was escorted from the train onto a red carpet where he was greeted by many cameramen and women.

Alongside Msunduzi Mayor Chris Ndlela and KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Willies Mchunu­, Modi laid a wreath in remembrance of Gandhi at a plaque on the platform.

Modi then gave a brief speech in Hindi, mentioning Gandhi and Nelson Mandela before being led to the station gates.

A large crowd, armed with phone cameras and Indian flags, chanting his name, gathered at the entrance of the station to welcome him.

Midlands Hindu Society’s Sherry Mahabeer said Modi’s visit had been “much anticipated” among the Indian community.

“Seeing Modi cemented a sense of belonging, it was like receiving our own and being in touch with the motherland even for those who have never visited India,” she said.

Mahabeer said that although Modi’s appearance was brief, catching a glimpse of the prime minister was like being linked to India.

Zuma and Modi held discussions during the visit that led to the signing of the memorandum of understanding on the establishment of grass-roots innovation of science and technology in the area­.
They also signed a memorandum of understanding on tourism and a programme of cultural co-operation and information, communication technology.

‘Seeing Modi cemented a sense of belonging, it was like receiving our own and being in touch with the motherland even for those who have never visited India’

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