- Thousands gathered at Palam airport to welcome PM Modi back to India
- He thanked the people, credited them with bringing glory to the nation
- PM Modi also praised soldiers who conducted surgical strike in his speech
Thousands of people gathered at New Delhi's Palam airport on Saturday evening to welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi upon his return from a week-long trip to the United States to attend the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), among other diplomatic commitments. In a speech delivered at the airport soon after his arrival, PM Modi praised soldiers on the third anniversary of the surgical strikes conducted by the army in 2016 on terrorist camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
PM Modi also thanked people for coming to receive him in large numbers and giving him an opportunity to extol the country's virtues on a global stage. "After winning the elections in 2014, I had gone to the United Nations. But this time, I observed a big change in their attitude towards India. The credit for their increased respect for India goes to 130 crore Indians," he said.
Recalling the surgical strikes, PM Modi said, "Three years ago, it was September 28 when I didn't sleep at all at night. I stayed awake all night. Every moment, I was waiting for when the telephone will ring... Three years ago, on the night of September 28, the brave soldiers of my country enhanced India's pride by conducting the surgical strike. Remembering that night, I salute the courage of our brave soldiers." The September 2016 surgical strikes were carried out to avenge the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Uri, in which 19 soldiers were killed.
Prior to his arrival, the airport premises witnessed colourful events with ecstatic crowds performing cultural dances and playing patriotic tunes to welcome a leader who had successfully showcased the country's achievements before the international community. "We are proud to have a Prime Minister like Narendra Modi. That is why we have spared no effort to welcome him back to India," one of his supporters at the airport said.
Another expressed her admiration for the Prime Minister by bursting into song as the crowds chanted "Bharat Mata Ki Jai".
The highlight of PM Modi's visit to the United States was the glittering "Howdy Modi" event in Houston on Sunday, where he and US President Donald Trump resolved to work together in matters related to trade, development and anti-terrorism activities.
On Friday, PM Modi delivered a 17-minute speech on a number of issues -- including climate change, development and terrorism -- at the UNGA. His address was markedly different from that of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who delivered an ominous warning of nuclear war unless New Delhi reconsidered its Kashmir strategy.
The Prime Minister ended his week-long visit to the United States with a series of tweets thanking everybody from Donald Trump to the people of India. "Wherever I went, whoever I met, be it world leaders, industrialists or citizens from all walks of life, there is a great spirit of optimism towards India. There is also immense appreciation of India's efforts to improve sanitation, healthcare and empower the poor," one of his tweets read.
According to police, multi-layer security arrangements were put in place at Palam airport for the Prime Minister's arrival. Multiple CCTV cameras were also installed, and anti-sabotage teams as well as snipers deployed on designated rooftops to keep a watch for suspicious activities.