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Indian diaspora in Iran to meet PM during visit

| SRIDHAR KUMARASWAMI
Published : May 19, 2016, 3:54 am IST
Updated : May 19, 2016, 3:54 am IST

Once a vibrant community in Iran, the Indian community there has shrunk to just about 60 families.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Photo: PTI)
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Photo: PTI)

Once a vibrant community in Iran, the Indian community there has shrunk to just about 60 families. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Iran on May 22 and 23, these families, predominantly Sikhs, will either be taken to the hotel where PM Modi is staying to meet him or else he will visit a gurdwara in Tehran to meet them.

In the 1970s, when the Shah still ruled, Iran had an Indian community that ran into several thousands and which included engineers, doctors, teachers and businessmen. But all that changed when the Islamic revolution swept Iran in 1979. In the 1980s, most Indians left Iran.

The gurdwara is the same that then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had visited in 2001. In 2012, during the visit of then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, his wife Gursharan Kaur had also visited the gurdwara, which is situated near the Indian school there. External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had also visited the gurdwara during her recent visit.

During Mr Modi’s visit, New Delhi will seek to strengthen ties after lifting of sanctions by the West. Mr Modi will meet both the Iranian President and the Supreme Leader.

The MEA had on Tuesday said, “At the invitation of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Dr Hassan Rouhani, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will pay an official visit to Iran on May 22-23, 2016. During the visit, the Prime Minister will call on the Supreme Leader of Iran and will hold talks on a wide range of subjects of mutual interest with President Dr Rouhani. India and Iran share long-standing civilisational ties.”

The MEA said, “Iran is situated in India’s extended neighbourhood and the two countries have significant overlap in their economic and security space. The visit of the Prime Minister to Iran will seek to build on these commonalties by focusing on specific cooperation in regional connectivity and infrastructure, developing energy partnership, boosting bilateral trade, facilitating people-to-people interaction in various spheres and promoting peace and stability in the region. The visit of the Prime Minister will provide a timely thrust to the ongoing efforts of the two countries and their business entities to expand bilateral cooperation and mutually benefit from new opportunities in the wake of lifting of secondary sanctions against Iran earlier this year.”

Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi