Modi’s ride will commemorate the incident in which a young Gandhi in 1893 was ejected from a South African train when he refused an order to move from a first-class carriage because of his race.
On the second day of his visit to South Africa, Modi boarded a train at Pentrich and travelled to Pietermaritzburg, a distance of around 15 km, paying tribute to Gandhi’s fight against racial discrimination.
On 7 June 1893, while Gandhi was on his way to Pretoria from Durban, a white man objected to his presence in a first-class carriage, and he was ordered to move to the third- class compartment.
Gandhi had a valid first-class ticket and refused to obey the orders following which he was thrown out of the train at Pietermaritzburg station in a winter night.
He had stayed at the station that night in shivering cold and the bitter incident had played a major role in Gandhi’s decision to stay on in South Africa and fight the racial discrimination against Indians there.
The Prime Minister visited the spot where Gandhi was offloaded from the train.
The encounter shaped Gandhi’s decision to resist racial segregation and other injustices with nonviolent protest, first while living in South Africa and then in India.
Modi has already met with members of South Africa’s community of Indian origin, which numbers more than 1 million. Modi moves on to Tanzania later Saturday and then to Kenya on a four-nation tour meant to raise India’s profile in Africa.