New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday was mobbed by school children during India’s 73rd Independence Day celebrations at the Red Fort in New Delhi. The enthusiastic students crowded around the prime minister and many were pushing each other to shake hands with Modi as he sidestepped his security cover to greet them.

Dressed in a white kurta-pyjama and a colourful turban, Modi delivered the Independence day speech at the Red Fort for over 90 minutes. Following his speech, Modi cleared the security cordon and stood in the midst of thousands of children, mostly girls, who welcomed him with loud cheers.

The children were all dressed in the colours of the national flag. “I can’t believe I got so close to the country’s PM,” said an ecstatic Mehvish Parveen (13), a Class 6 student of a government school in Daryaganj. She added, “The moment I saw him approaching us, I dashed towards him. I was only able to touch his hand as so many girls were jostling to shake hands with him. I feel very lucky.”

While those in the front row got the chance the shake hands with the prime minister, many students missed the opportunity. A disappointed student, Afreen Sharif (14) rued, “People pushed and shoved to get close to the PM, but our teacher had told us to maintain discipline and not run when he comes near us. I am sad that I could not shake hands with Modiji.”

Speaking to the reporters, some students appreciated the prime minister for covering significant issues like triple talaq, sanitation and water conservation in his speech. “Our prime minister is our hero. He is an inspiration to all of us. Even though it was a long speech, I enjoyed listening to him because he was talking about our country. He was creating awareness about challenges faced by our nation and how we as citizens can contribute,” noted Vidhya Kumari, a Class VII student from a government school.

During the 72nd Independence day celebrations also, Modi had moved out of his security cordon to greet children.