A rare gift awaits Prez in London

2 NRI tycoons to hand over Mahatmas letters to Khilafat leader Bari and a piece of khadi cloth


The articles will be presented to the President on Wednesday.

Also in the gift-pack will be some postcards and articles of the Mahatma, mostly with his signatures.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao on Friday said Nat Puri and Ghulam K Noon — both among the wealthiest NRI entrepreneurs of the UK — would hand over Mahatma’s memorabilia to the president sometime during her visit to the United Kingdom.
Nat Puri and Ghulam K Noon had bought the rare articles in an auction in London last July.

President Patil will leave for London next Tuesday on a three-day visit.
The foreign secretary further  said Nat Puri and Ghulam K Noon would formally present the rare articles to the President at India House in London next Wednesday.

Muslim relations

The letters include the ones Mahatma had written to Maulana Abdul Bari, an eminent Islamic scholar and a frontliner of the Khilafat Movement.

The letters referred to Hindu-Muslim relations and communal tension in Lucknow.
In a letter written from prison, Mahatma thanked Bari for the bunch of cotton the latter gifted to him for spinning in the jail. 

Maulana Abdul Bari was a close associate of Gandhi in late 1910s and early 1920s.
The foreign secretary also said that Puri and Noon would also present to the President a piece of khadi cloth spun by Gandhi.

The white cotton piece with purple borders carries the Mahatma’s signature in Gujarati. Gandhi had gifted it to famous actress Moira Lister.

Gandhi aficionados

Puri and Noon bought the Gandhi memorabilia almost for double the pre-sale estimates at London auctioneer Sotheby’s on July 14 last.

Restaurateur Noon is well known as ‘curry king’ in the UK. Puri owns Nottingham-based Purico Group of Companies and was listed among the 20 wealthiest Asians in Britain a few years back.

Earlier in 1998, the two business tycoons had bought another series of letters written by Mahatma Gandhi to Bari in an auction in London and later presented them to  then President K R Narayanan. 

Patil’s state visit to the UK is the third by an Indian president. Presidents Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and R Venkataraman had visited the country in 1963 and 1990. The President will be a guest of the Queen Elizabeth II, who will host a banquet in her honour at Windsor Castle. Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao further disclosed that the president would also meet British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

David Cameron, the leader of the opposition in the British Parliament, and Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, would also call on the president, she added.
The President will also attend the ceremony in which Queen Elizabeth II would formally launch the baton relay for the Commonwealth Games that would be held in New Delhi next year.

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