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At Sabarmati, Bibi gives charkha diplomacy a whirl

Virendra Pandit Ahmedabad | Updated on January 24, 2018 Published on January 17, 2018

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara as they try their hand at the charkha at Hridaykunj, Mahatma Gandhi Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, on Wednesday   -  Vijay Soneji

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu arrive at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International airport in Ahmedabad on Wednesday. -- PTI

History may have turned full circle when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Gandhi Ashram here and paid rich tributes to Mahatma Gandhi on Wednesday.

“An inspiring visit to the hearth of one of humanity’s great prophets of inspiration — Mahatma Gandhi,” he wrote in the visitors’ book, flanked by his wife Sara and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Along with Modi, he paid glowing tributes to the Mahatma, spun yarn at the charkha (spinning wheel), showered petals at Gandhiji’s bust and also tried his hand at kite-flying, with Modi’s help.

They were welcomed by Kartikeya Sarabhai, son of late Vikram Sarabhai, who is a trustee at the Ashram.

On Wednesday, the two leaders shared a car and went straight from the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Airport to Gandhi Ashram on the banks of the Sabarmati River.

Artistes’ troupes from 20 Indian States performed and welcomed the guests, artfully showcasing the country’s cultural diversity.

A large number of people lined up to welcome the guests.

The 8-km stretch from the airport to the Ashram was decked up to welcome the Israeli Prime Minister, who is the third international leader to be hosted by Modi in his home State. Earlier, Modi had hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Gujarat in 2014 and 2017, respectively. They too had spent time at the newly-developed Sabarmati Riverfront, Modi’s pet project for the beautification of Ahmedabad.

An elaborate security detail had been put up in place, with a seven-layered security.

Around 7,000 local policemen provided the outermost ring while commandos drawn from various Indian and Israeli forces, including the Mossad, formed concentric security rings.

In the Gandhi Ashram area, snipers were deployed on nearby buildings. The entire area was kept under watch by the CCTV cameras. A security drill had also been conducted on Tuesday.

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Published on January 17, 2018
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