Row over Iran Gandhi Jayanti event

Indians divided over paying homage to the Mahatma on a cremation ground A fortnight after the Indian Embassy in Tehran was forced to cancel a Gandhi Jayanti event on the Indian Community Cremation Ground of the city, the Ambassador has triggered a fresh controversy after he presided over a “tree plantation” event at the venue to honour the Mahatma. Ambassador Saurabh Kumar presided over a tree plantation programme on October 19 as part of the celebrations to mark the beginning of the 150th birth anniversary fete of Mahatma Gandhi. “The relationship between Iran and India has a long history that is always friendly and I hope it will continue that way,” Mr. Kumar said at the programme. Some Indians said that the event was not organised with the support of the majority, as most opposed the idea of hosting events for the Mahatma on the cremation ground. The Hindu had earlier reported that a similar event planned for October 4 was cancelled by the embassy in view of “strong public reservation”. A source in the embassy confirmed that the October 19 event was part of a series to commemorate the Mahatma’s ties with Iran. ‘Official status’ Reports suggest that the event was organised by a prominent member of the Indian community. However, the presence of the Ambassador and the prominent use of the logo of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi has given this event official status. The event was also attended by the Mayor of 15th District of Tehran Wahid Reza Mohammadi. Some of the Indians had earlier suggested that the event could have been held in a school or a community hall.

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