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PM Narendra Modi becomes first PM to serve Community Kitchen and distribute Food to Devotees at Golden Temple

It was the Prime Minister's first visit to the shrine and he was accompanied by Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani

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Prime Minster of India Narendra Modi at the Golden Temple. Twitter

Amritsar, December 4, 2016: Narendra Modi distributed food to devotees at the Golden Temple here on Saturday night thus becoming the first Prime Minister to serve the community kitchen, or langar, at the holiest of Sikh shrines in this Punjab city.

It was the Prime Minister’s first visit to the shrine and he was accompanied by Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani. The visit came on the sidelines of the 6th Heart Of Asia-Istanbul conference on Afghanistan.

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“Modi is the first prime Minister who served the devotees in the Golden Temple,” Gurbachan Singh, Chief Information Officer at the shrine, told IANS on Sunday.

Gurbachan Singh said though almost every Indian Prime Minister has visited the Harmandar Sahib, the sanctum sanctorum, to pay obeisance and offer prayers, none had so far participated in the distribution of food in the community kitchen.

Served 'Langar' at the Golden Temple. Twitter
Served ‘Langar’ at the Golden Temple. Twitter

On Saturday night, when Modi entered the dining hall, “he suddenly started serving the devotees”, Gurbachan Singh said.

The shrine’s main dining hall is the 24-hour community kitchen where an estimated 100,000 devotees are fed traditional meals on peak days.

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The official remembered that almost all former Prime Ministers visited the temple. Indira Gandhi, V.P. Singh, Chandra Shekhar, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, H.D. Deve Gowda, Inder Kumar Gujral and Manmohan Singh, to name a few, he recalled.

“In fact, Manmohan Singh visited the Golden Temple many times as Prime Minister,” Gurbachan Singh said.

Official sources said Modi, donning a woollen cap, spent more than 40 minutes in the Golden Temple, which is spread over 15 acres.

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The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) provided a volunteer force inside the shrine during Modi’s visit while security officials in plain-clothes were accompanying the high-security VIP visitors.

Foreign leaders who have visited the shrine include then Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in November 2009. British monarch Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Phillip visited the Golden Temple in October 1997. (IANS)

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Saudi, India Admit of Putting Pressure on Countries Supporting Terrorism

Prince Mohammad said the relations between two countries were "older than history" and these were "in blood".

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The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi at the signing of agreements between India and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 03, 2016. Wikipedia

Against the backdrop of the Pulwama terror attack, India and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday said there was a need to exert “all possible pressure” on countries which extend any kind of support to terror activities as they agreed for biennial summit meetings and formation of the Strategic Partnership Council.

However, at the joint interaction with the media after delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, there was no reference to Pakistan by either leader.

The Prince had just made a two-day visit to Pakistan that ended on Tuesday.

Modi said that the “barbaric terror attack” in Pulwama was another manifestation of the danger posed by terrorism to humanity.

“We agree that to deal with it effectively, there is need to put all possible pressure on countries which are giving any kind of support to terrorism,” Modi said.

India, Saudi
Modi said that the “barbaric terror attack” in Pulwama was another manifestation of the danger posed by terrorism to humanity. VOA

He said it was extremely necessary to destroy terror infrastructure and to punish terrorists and their supporters.

Modi said there was need for an action plan to deal with extremism so that the youths were not misguided by forces linked to terror and violence.

“I am happy that Saudi Arabia and India have common thoughts on this,” he said.

Prince Salman, in his remarks, said that extremism and terrorism were common concerns of the two countries and Saudi Arabia will fully cooperate with India.

“As far as the issue of extremism and terrorism, these are our common concerns. We want to tell India that we are ready to cooperate with you in every way, whether it is intelligence sharing.. Not only India but we will work with all the countries in the neighbourhood so that the future of the coming generations is secured,” he said.

Prince Mohammed said India offers investment opportunities of over $100 billon and his country will work to make investments beneficial for both countries.

He said the relations between two countries were “older than history” and these were “in blood”.

Modi said Saudi Arabia was among the most important strategic partners of India in the 21st century.

“It is in our extended neighbourhood, is a close friend and an important source of India’s energy needs. I am happy that in accordance with your suggestion, we have agreed for biennial summit meetings and Strategic Partnership Council. This will strengthen our ties,” he said.

 

India, Saudi
“We agree that to deal with it effectively, there is need to put all possible pressure on countries which are giving any kind of support to terrorism,” Modi said. Wikimedia

Modi said the two leaders discussed all aspects of the bilateral relationship and decided to take it to new heights. “We agreed to create a structure to facilitate institutional investment from Saudi Arabia. I welcome Saudi Arabia’s investment in infrastructure.”

He said time has come to turn energy relations to a strategic partnership and noted that Saudi Arabia’s participation in world’s largest refinery and strategic petroleum reserve will take their energy relationship beyond that of buyer and seller.

Modi said that the two countries have a common interest in ensuring peace and stability in West Asia and the Gulf.

“Today in our talks, there was agreement on accelerating mutual cooperation and partnership in this area,” he said.

The two countries also agreed that strong relations in counter-terrorism, ocean and cyber security will be mutually beneficial, he said.

He said the two countries have also decided to increase and expand their defence cooperation in the context of their strategic environment.

Modi said that e-visa facility for Saudi nationals is being expanded to boost trade and tourism and thanked Prince Salman for the increase in Haj quota for Indians.

He welcomed Saudi Arabia’s participation in International Solar Alliance.

“Peaceful use of nuclear energy, specially for water desalination and health will be another aspect of our cooperation,” he said.

 

India, Saudi
Modi said Saudi Arabia was among the most important strategic partners of India in the 21st century. Pixabay

He said presence of 2.7 million Indians in Saudi Arabia is an important link in bilateral ties. “You have always kept their welfare in mind and for this, their gratitude and good wishes are with you,” Modi said.

Earlier, the Crown Prince, who is on his first state visit to India, received a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhawan here.

 

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He told the media that the ties between India and the Arabian Peninsula “is in our DNA”.

“With the leadership of the President and the Prime Minister, I am sure we can create good things for Saudi Arabia and India,” he said.

Prince Mohammed arrived in the capital on Tuesday for a two-day visit and was received by Modi at the Palam airport. (IANS)