Enthused schoolchildren on Thursday crowded around Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with many of them jostling to shake hands as he sidestepped his security cover to greet his young admirers after his Independence Day address from the Red Fort.
Dressed in a white kurta-pyjama and a colourful turban, Modi arrived at the Red Fort to a thunderous applause from the crowd. He spoke for over 90 minutes from the ramparts of the 17th century Mughal citadel and touched upon issues like triple talaq, sanitation, importance of water and population control.
Soon after finishing his speech, Modi waved at the crowd and walked to his motorcade to leave. On his way out, he halted and stepped out of his car, breaking from the security cordon to enter an enclosure where thousands of children, mostly girls, welcomed him with loud cheers.
Dressed in the colours of the national flag, the excited children jostled with each other to get a glimpse of the prime minister while those in the front rows got an opportunity to shake hands with him.
“I can’t believe I got so close to the country’s PM,” said an ecstatic Mehvish Parveen (13), a Class 6 student of a government school in Daryaganj.
“The moment I saw him approaching us, I dashed towards him. I was only able to touch his hand as so many girls were jostling to shake hands with him. I feel very lucky,” she said.
Al Madiha, a Class VII student of another government school, was over the moon having got a chance to shake hands with the prime minister.
Another student, Afreen Sharif (14) was a tad disappointed as she could not shake hands with the prime minister despite getting close to him.
“People pushed and shoved to get close to the PM, but our teacher had told us to maintain discipline and not run when he comes near us. I am sad that I could not shake hands with Modiji,” she rued.
Asked about her favourite part of Modi’s speech, Vibha Kumari, a Class XI student of a school in Anand Vihar, said, “I felt happy as our PM spoke about the issue of triple talaq because we had heard that so many women were suffering because of it.”
Zeenat, Suman and a few other students also appreciated that the prime minister spoke about triple talaq and other issues like sanitation and water conservation.
“Our prime minister is our hero. He is an inspiration to all of us. Even though it was a long speech, I enjoyed listening to him because he was talking about our country. He was creating awareness about challenges faced by our nation and how we as citizens can contribute,” said Vidhya Kumari, a Class VII student of a government school.
Last year too Modi had moved out of his security cordon to greet children on Independence Day.