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A homecoming for Guyana's president
August 24, 2003 21:31 IST
Last Updated: August 24, 2003 23:23 IST
It was an emotional return for Guyana's president to his ancestral village in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday.
Bharat Jagdeo went to Pure Thakurain village in Amethi and met his 90-year-old aunt and other relatives wallowing in abject poverty.
"It is like a homecoming. It is an experience," the 39-year-old Jagdeo said after spending nearly 40 minutes in the village, which was spruced up after his visit was finalised.
Accompanied by a 13-member delegation, which included six persons of Indian origin, he arrived to a red carpet reception.
Rose petals were showered as members of his extended family lined up to receive the grandson of Ram Jiyavan, who had left home for greener pastures as an indentured labourer way back in 1912.
He visited a small piece of land, which the villagers claimed belonged to his grandfather, and lighted an earthen lamp there.
Though Jagdeo conversed in English, the language did not act as a barrier between him and the villagers, who stood outside their small thatched houses to welcome him.
Tight security arrangements were made for his visit and barricades erected in the village. A brick road was laid overnight and uninterrupted power supply ensured. Minister of State for External Affairs Digvijay Singh and Congress MP from Rae Bareilly Satish Sharma accompanied him.
Holding the trembling hands of his aunt, Ram Dulari, the president said, "I am happy to meet you."
"Welcome to your motherland," Ram Durali said staring at the president's moist eyes.
The president told reporters: "I am very happy. I am thinking of 1912 when my grandfather left this place.
"I have returned to my roots."
Guyana abounded in Indian culture and cuisine, he said, adding "there are some variations but the essence is Indian. The people of Guyana love Indian music."
The president was given gifts like copies of Gita, Ramayana and other religious books. "We want to give him books related to Hindu religion," Prem Shankar, a relative, said.