Premier Narendra Modi led countrywide celebrations to mark the 150 anniversary of the birth of India’s independence hero Mahatma Gandhi.
Modi and leaders including President Ram Kovind visited the mausoleum of Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat in New Delhi to pay their respects to the man, who led India’s freedom movement against the British.
“Tributes to beloved Bapu (father). On #Gandhi150 we express gratitude to Mahatma Gandhi for his everlasting contribution to humanity. We pledge to continue working hard to realise his dreams and create a better planet,” Modi said on Twitter.
Scores of people also travelled from different states and queued up at the memorial where all-religion prayers were organised. Leaders from the opposition Indian National Congress also paid tributes at Rajghat and later held marches across the country to “redeem Gandhi values and ideals.”
Tens of thousands of Indians attended commemorative events held across the country.
Modi was expected to declare India “open defecation free” at a function in his home state of Gujarat on Wednesday evening, broadcaster NDTV reported.
The government’s Clean India campaign, launched in 2014, aimed to end open defecation by building a toilet for every citizen by Oct. 2, 2019. But experts and domestic media are sceptical about government claims.
News verification website FactChecker said its investigations across five major states showed missing toilet subsidies, half-constructed or neglected toilets. Others are lack of water in toilets and open defecation, both out of choice and because of lack of an alternative, contrary to Modi’s claims.
Studies have found many people now owned a toilet but used one in the belief that outdoor places are cleaner or more hygienic for defecation.