Mauritius prime minister begins three-day visit to Bihar

February 18th, 2008 - 6:50 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Navinchandra Ramgoolam

Patna, Feb 18 (IANS) Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam Monday began his three-day visit to Bihar, land of his ancestors, amid tight security. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar along with his cabinet colleagues received Ramgoolam at the airport. The government put dozens of colourful hoardings welcoming Ramgoolam back to his roots.

This is Ramgoolam’s first visit to Bihar, which his ancestors left more than 100 years ago to work in sugar plantations in Mauritius.

Upon his arrival, an emotionally charged Ramgoolam touched the soil and applied some on his forehead.

“It was a rare gesture when Mauritius prime minister showed respect to land of his ancestors,” Kumar said.

“I was surprised when Navinchandra Ramgoolam-ji touched the soil and applied some on his forehead,” Kumar told reporters.

Ramgoolam’s wife Veena and a 30-member official delegation have accompanied him. Besides, a 16-member cultural delegation from Mauritius arrived here Sunday, a day ahead of his arrival.

He is scheduled to attend several official functions in Patna and would visit Bhojpur, Siwan, Gaya and Nalanda districts during his visit.

He unveiled a bronze statue of his father Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, who led the country to independence from Britain and was the first prime minister of the island nation.

The 600 kg statue has been installed at a popular tri-junction near the historic Gandhi Maidan in the state capital. Noida-based sculptor Anil Kumar Suthar created the nine-foot statue at a cost of Rs.1.4 million.

On Tuesday, he would visit his ancestral village Harigaon in Bhojpur district, where he would spend about three hours with the villagers. He would also take part in a public reception organised in his honour in the village.

“He will lay the foundation stones of various development projects there,” an official source in chief minister’s office said.

A nondescript village till now, Harigaon has been given a facelift. The chief minister and top officials of the government went to the village last month and announced a spate of measures including construction of roads, a hospital, a school and other basic facilities.

“The state government has requisitioned the services of two Mi-8 helicopters of the IAF (Indian Air Force) to fly him to Siwan and Harigaon, his ancestral village on the second day of his visit,” an official said.

Kumar would throw a dinner on cruise on river Ganges Tuesday night. On third day of his visit, Ramgoolam would be visiting Nalanda and Bodh Gaya before leaving for Mauritius.

Bihar police chief A.R. Sinha said foolproof security arrangements have been made for the prime minister’s visit

A large number of people from Bihar travelled to various parts of the world, including Mauritius, in the 19th century to serve as indentured labourers in sugarcane and rubber plantations and Ramgoolam’s grandfather Mohit (immigrant No.353639) was one of those who was forcibly taken by the British in 1871.

Most of the workers then were from districts like Bhojpur, Chapra, Gopalganj and East and West Champaran. About 60 percent of the 1.2 million population of Mauritius is of Indian origin.

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