Friend from across the border comes calling on PM

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Attari-Wagah, May 18 (UNI) After being denied a visa on several occasions, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's schoolmate has finally arrived with the soil (mitti) and water from the ancestral village of Dr Singh.

Raja Mohammed Ali from Gah village in Chakwal district of Pakistan arrived today through this border road check post along with his nephew, Haji Ahmed.

''I hope to meet Mohna (Dr Singh) and renew our friendship'', he said, while pointing out that he would 'present' the 'mitti' and water along with an embroidered 'Punjabi Jutti' to the PM when they meet.

Ever since Dr Singh became the Prime Minister, Raja had desired to meet him and relive the memories of their school days. He revealed that because of Mohna a lot of development work had been undertaken in their village and every body there remembered him.

''Everyone back home remembers Mohna'', he added with a twinkle in his eyes.

Recalling the school days, Raja said he dropped out from school after the fourth standard. ''But Mohna, as he was lovingly called was always engrossed in his studies and look where he has reached'', he added.

He recalled how the students would steal dried fruits from Mohna's pockets. Mohna's parents were dried fruit agents in Gallah Mandi, which was close to the village, he recalled.

''We in the village were all very happy and celebrated when Mohna became the Wazir-e-azam of Hindustan'', he added. Thereafter, the village was declared a model village by the government and development started, he said.

Referring to a letter written by Dr Singh after he became the Prime Minister, the Pakistani visitor said they all felt proud that someone from the village had risen so high in life, but had not forgotten his roots.

The letter was written to an official of Chakwal district, who handed it over to the village residents.

The school where the Prime Minister studied was being renamed Manmohan Singh High School. Raja, however, lamented that they could not preserve the mud house of Dr Singh's family as it was washed away some years back.

UNI XC-HS SB CS2020

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