Excited residents gather to see Modi during Pietermaritzburg visit

2016-07-11 11:58
The red-brick road around the City Hall.

The red-brick road around the City Hall. (Jonathan Burton)

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

Modi arrived in Pretoria last Thursday for a two-day official visit focussed onto strengthening the relationship between the two countries.

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

Modi arrived atthe Pentrich station in Pietermaritzburg on Saturday morning, where he travelled by train railthrough to thePietermaritzburg train 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.

With the station platform spotless, Modi was escorted from the train onto a red carpet on Saturday morning, where he was greeted by packs of scrambling 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.

Waving and smiling at the cameras and photographers, Modi then gave a brief speech in Hindi, mentioning Gandhi and Nelson Mandela several times before being led to the gates of the station doors.

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

As Modi exited the station, a cry swept through the crowd as he waved to the people.

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 grassroots innovation in the area of science and technology. They also signed the memorandum of understanding on tourism and programme of cultural co-operation and ICT (information, communication technology).

Read more on:    narendra modi  |  pietermaritzburg

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