Jul 12, 2016

Modi retraces Gandhi’s Train Journey in South Africa

Reliving Mahatma Gandhi’s historic train journey, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday travelled to the railway station where the Father of the Nation was thrown out of a train compartment – an incident that proved to be a turning point in his fight against racial discrimination in South Africa. Prime Minister pays glowing tribute to the Mahatma and Nelson Mandela.

Prime Minister Modi retraces Mahatma Gandhi’s train journey in South Africa; arrives by train at the railway station in Pietermaritzburg

Pietermaritzburg (SA): Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled on a train on Saturday from Pentrich to the Pietermaritzburg railway station where a young Gandhi was thrown out of a compartment in 1893 for refusing to obey a racist order to move from a first-class compartment to a third-class one for being an Indian. On the second day of his South Africa visit, Modi boarded a wood-panelled carriage at Pentrich and travelled to Pietermaritzburg railway station where a young Gandhi was thrown out of a train.

The turning point of Mahatma Gandhiji’s life in Pietermaritzberg South Africa, where he was thrown out of the train just because he was a non-white! Travelling farther on by stagecoach he was also beaten by a white driver for refusing to travel on the foot board to make room for a European passenger. These events were a turning point in his life, awakening him to social injustice by White sects of European origin, and influencing his subsequent social activism. 

“This is the place where the seed was laid for Mohandas (Karamchand Gandhi) to start the journey of the Mahatma,” Modi told reporters at the Pietermaritzburg railway station.

The incident on June 7, 1893 had strongly influenced Gandhi’s decision to fight racial discrimination in South Africa and later the freedom struggle in India.

Paying a glowing tribute to Gandhi, the prime minister said the visit to South Africa was like a pilgrimage as he was visiting places linked to India’s history and life of the Father of the Nation. “My visit to South Africa has become like a pilgrimage as I have got the opportunity to visit all the three places that are significant to Indian history and Mahatma Gandhi’s life,” said Modi.

Pietermaritzburg Station in South Africa where Mahatma Gandhi was forced out of a First Class compartment by Whites

Modi also visited the spot where Gandhi was offloaded at Pietermaritzburg. Writing in the visitors’ book at the station, Modi said the incident at Pietermaritzburg had altered the course of India’s history. The prime minister also inaugurated an exhibition at the waiting hall of the railway station where Gandhi had spent the night after being thrown out of the train.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaks to the press at a railway station in Pietermaritzburg

“My visit to South Africa has become like a pilgrimage a pilgrimage to me as I have got the opportunity to visit all the three places that are significant to Indian history and Mahatma Gandhi’s life,” said Modi.

On the fateful winter night, while Gandhi was on his way to Pretoria from Durban, a white man objected to his presence in a first-class carriage, and he was ordered to move to the third-class compartment. Gandhi had a valid first-class ticket and refused to obey the orders following which he was thrown out of the train at Pietermaritzburg station on a winter night. He had stayed at the station that night in shivering cold.


The Prime Minister also inaugurated an exhibition at the waiting hall of the railway station where Gandhi had spent the night after being thrown out of the train.


On the fateful winter night, while Gandhi was on his way to Pretoria from Durban, a white man objected to his presence in a first-class carriage, and he was ordered to move to the third-class compartment.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inspects a bust of Mahatma Gandhi in Johannesburg on Friday

Gandhi had a valid first-class ticket and refused to obey the orders following which he was thrown out of the train at Pietermaritzburg station in a winter night. He had stayed at the station that night in shivering cold.


Modi also talked about Gandhi’s fight against racial discrimination and how he tolerated pain in fighting against injustices.


“PM travels from Pentrich Railway Station to Pietermaritzburg. Train resembles the one on which Gandhi ji travelled,” the PMO tweeted.


The Prime Minister arrived in South Africa from Mozambique on Thursday night on the second leg of his four-nation trip to Africa.


Modi had held extensive talks South African President Jacob Zuma yesterday during which both sides agreed to deepen engagement in key areas of defence production, manufacturing, mining and minerals.


The two countries also vowed to cooperate “actively” in combating terrorism and dealing with issues at multilateral fora.

Narendra Modi,Mahatma Gandhi, Pietermaritzburg Railway Station, South Africa

After talks, he had paid glowing tribute to Gandhi as well as to Nelson Mandela. “For me personally, this visit is an opportunity to pay homage to two of the greatest human souls to have ever walked this Earth – Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela,” Modi said.
He further said, “We stood together in our common fight against racial subjugation and colonialism. It was in South Africa that Gandhi found his true calling. He belongs as much to India as to South Africa.

Prime Minister Modi talks with Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, at Phoenix Settlement

PM Modi pays floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi during a visit to Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg


PM Narendra Modi with Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, during a visit to Sarvodaya-Gandhiji’s residence at Phoenix Settlement in South Africa