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Last Updated:  Friday, 21 February, 2003, 13:08 GMT
India in Gandhi tribute
Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly clap as the new Mahatma Gandhi plaque is unveiled
The Indian players were present when the plaque was unveiled
India's World Cup cricketers paid homage to the founder of modern day India when they visited the site where Mahatma Gandhi was evicted from a train in Pietermaritzburg in 1893.

The city, 50 miles inland from Durban, has long been arguably the most important town for Indian tourists to visit in South Africa.

At the train station a plaque commemorates the day in 1893 when Gandhi was thrown off a train for travelling in the 'white-only' first-class compartment.

And on Friday, a fresh plaque was unveiled, as the current Indian team embarked on a symbolic 15-minute train ride.

Ganguly said: "Any Indian will be inspired by doing what Gandhi had himself done so many years ago."

Rob Haswell, director of special projects in Pietermaritzburg, told BBC Sport: "Obviously it was a major turning-point in Gandhi's life.

"He stated himself that that incident changed his life. We have always regarded the Pietermaritzburg station as a pilgrimage site.

"When Indians come to South Africa they make a beeline for Pietermaritzburg. Every Indian schoolchild knows about it.

"If they know one city in South Africa they know Pietermaritzburg because of the Gandhi story."

My overcoat was in my luggage, but I did not dare to ask for it lest I should be insulted again, so I sat and shivered
Mahatma Gandhi, reliving his Pietermaritzburg experience in his autobiography

In June 1893, Gandhi was working in Durban as a legal advisor.

He purchased a first-class ticket for a trip to Pretoria and duly entered the first-class compartment.

But a European traveller complained to officials who ordered Gandhi to move to the van compartment, despite his protestations that he had a valid first-class ticket.

Gandhi refused to comply with the order, so he was summarily pushed out of the train and his luggage tossed out on to the platform at Pietermaritzburg.

Picture Gallery: Gandhi's Birthday
02 Oct 02 |  UK Politics

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