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At Arlington cemetery, Modi pays homage to Kalpana Chawla

Source: PTI
Last updated on: June 07, 2016 11:16 IST
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday laid a wreath at the Tomb of Unknown Soldiers and paid homage to Indian-American astronaut late Kalpana Chawla at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays homage to Indian-American astronaut late Kalpana Chawla at the Space Shuttle Columbia Memorial. Photograph: MEA/Flickr

"Honouring sacrifice, saluting valour. Formal engagements begin with a solemn ceremony," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.

"In homage to heroism and indomitable courage," Swarup said in another tweet.

He also had a brief interaction with the husband and family members of Chawla, senior officials from NASA, Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams and her father at Space Shuttle Columbia Memorial.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays homage to Indian-American astronaut late Kalpana Chawla at the Space Shuttle Columbia Memorial. Photograph: MEA/Flickr

US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter accompanied the Prime Minister. Indian Ambassador to the US Arun K Singh, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma and Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal were also present on the occasion.

"All of us are very honored that he took time to come and acknowledge the shuttle catastrophe and the deep cooperation that we have with India in space world," Williams told PTI after her brief interaction with Modi.

"Personally it is commemorating my friend (Kalpana Chawala)," Williams said.

Modi spoke to Sunita's father in Gujarati and invited them to visit India.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Kalpana Chawla's family at the Space Shuttle Columbia Memorial. Photograph: MEA/Flickr

"With health permitting, I definitely look forward to visiting India," her father said.

"The prime minister said come to India. Please come and visit," she said.

Chawla's husband Jean-Pierre Harrison presented a set of books on the late astronaut, including a biography written by him, to the prime minister.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams and her father at the Space Shuttle Columbia Memorial. Photograph: MEA/Flickr

Talking about Modi's visit to the memorial, Harrison said: " I think he was glad to be here and I think he appreciate couple of family members here."

Remembering his wife, he said that Kalpana was a very determined person and she just worked very hard to achieve whatever she wanted.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with Kalpana Chawla's husband Jean-Pierre Harrison and niece Neha Chawla at the Space Shuttle Columbia Memorial. Photograph: MEA/Flickr

He added that India is his second home and he will be visiting the country in near future.

Chawla's niece Neha Chawla said that her aunt's life is an inspiration.

Saying it's an honour that the prime minister visited here, she added, "I think she is an inspiration and her life is an inspiration and I think she has made the country proud."

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi bows before the Tomb of unknown Soldier at Washington, DC. Photograph: MEA/Flickr

The Tomb of the Unknowns is a monument dedicated to American service members who have died without their remains being identified.

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