NEW DELHI – The Indian prime minister and president led on Tuesday an official ceremony – that also included opposition leaders and military officers – on the 70th anniversary of the death of Mahatma Gandhi.
Along with Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind, Sonia Gandhi, ex-president of the main opposition Congress Party, and ex-prime minister Manmohan Singh were also present at Raj Ghat, where a black marble platform marks the spot where the great pacifist was cremated.
The president gave a salute to the monument in memory of Gandhi and put rose petals on the platform, with Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and army chief Bipin Rawat also paying their tributes.
Others, such as the leader of the opposition, Rahul Gandhi, of the Congress party, paid their tributes on the spot – now converted into a museum – where the “Father of the Nation” was shot three times on Jan. 30, 1948, by Hindu fundamentalist Nathuram Godse.
In Connaught Place – the center of the city – two cannon shots were fired to honor Gandhi as per yearly custom and various documentary screenings and book exhibitions have also been organized.
Born on Oct. 2, 1869 in the current state of Gujarat, Gandhi studied law in England and lived in South Africa before leading the non-violent struggle for India’s freedom from the British Empire, achieved in 1947.
Gandhi used non-violence and civil disobedience as strategies to fight the British empire, advocated the end of injustice caused by the Hindu caste system and was a firm defender of inter-religious harmony.