UK marks Gandhi Jayanti with peace walk

Hundreds of people from the Indian diaspora here and senior British politicians turned out to pay tributes to Mahatma Gandhi on his 146th birth anniversary on Friday.

PTI| Updated: Oct 02, 2015, 18:25 PM IST

London: Hundreds of people from the Indian diaspora here and senior British politicians turned out to pay tributes to Mahatma Gandhi on his 146th birth anniversary on Friday.

The annual Gandhi Jayanti event at the Father of the Indian Nation's iconic statue at Tavistock Square was followed up this year by a 2-mile "Gandhi Peace Walk" to the newest monument in his memory at Parliament Square in London.

The walk was flagged off by Indian High Commissioner to the UK Ranjan Mathai after floral tributes and 'bhajans' at the older monument.

He was joined by deputy mayor of Camden, Councillor Lazarro Pietragnoli, British Indian MP Virendra Sharma, chairman of India League C B Patel among other senior representatives of the British Indian community.

A surprise guest at this year's event was Bollywood actor Jackie Shroff, who also paid floral tributes at the Gandhi statue before joining the peace walk.

"We want people of all faiths to join, connect with others, to show how much we all are concerned and how important peace and values upheld by Gandhiji are. In the end it can only be achieved by talking and understand each other," said one of the organisers of the first such walk to the Gandhi statue at Parliament Square.

The historic bronze statue was unveiled in March this year jointly by British Prime Minister David Cameron and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

"Today is a momentous day in our shared history. Not only is it the International Day of Non-Violence, it is also the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the India's democratic movement ? and one of history's greatest-ever proponents of peace," said Priti Patel, UK employment minister and Cameron's Indian Diaspora Champion.

"Gandhi's philosophy has inspired much positive and peaceful change around the world and he holds an enduring significance to both of our countries. Indeed, the strength of our relationship, this partnership of equals, is just one of the many legacies left by Gandhi.

"Today is a day to reflect on Gandhi's life and all his achievements, in particular his fervent belief in peaceful protest over military aggression," she said.

The senior UK Cabinet minister also made a reference to the "talented and energetic Indian diaspora community in the UK" which will be at the heart of Prime Minister Modi's visit to the UK in November "to celebrate the long-standing bonds between our two nations and explore ways to deepen our partnership even further".