Indian community mourns death of Polish president

April 10th, 2010 - 8:33 pm ICT by IANS  

By Surender Bhutani
Warsaw, April 10 (IANS) The Indian community in Poland Saturday mourned the death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski in an air crash and said they had lost a “steadfast friend”.

“It is a terrible loss for us Indians as President Kaczynski has been a steadfast friend of India. We feel a personal loss in his untimely death,” said J.J. Singh, president of the Indo-Polish Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IPCCI) and president of Shri Gurudwara Committee in Warsaw.

Kaczynski and 130 others, including most of his staff, were killed when a Russian-built Tupolev 154-M reportedly struck some trees, caught fire and broke up as it approached the airport in Smolensk city in western Russia.

There are approximately 3,500 Indians in Poland, mostly businessmen who migrated to cash on the economic boom after Warsaw opted for a free-market economy in 1989 and joined the European Union in 2004.

“We are going to have special prayers in gurudwara Sunday in his memory and in the memory of many other Polish officials who also perished in the crash. They were equally helpful to us in their lifetime,” added Singh.

Kaczynski, a staunch Catholic, had given permission to set up the gurudwara, the only one in eastern Europe, when he was the Warsaw mayor. He also gave permission to build a Hindu temple in Warsaw. It attracts hundreds of devotees.

Kaczynski was highly impressed by the Indian model of economic development and was keen to visit India.

The Indian Association in Poland expressed shock and called it a “sad day in Polish history”.

Similar announcements have been made by Indo-Polish cultural committees in Krakow and Warsaw.

The Indian restaurants in Warsaw have cancelled their musical programmes to show their Polish counterparts that they stand by them in their moment of national grief.

There are 22 Indian restaurants in Warsaw, apart from 20 throughout Poland.

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