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Former PM IK Gujral passes away; 7-day state mourning

NEW DELHI, NOV 30 (IANS/AGENCIES)
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Published on 1 Dec. 2012 12:46 AM IST
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Inder Kumar Gujral, who was India’s prime minister for 11 months in 1997-98, died in a Gurgaon hospital Friday, his family said. He was 93. He passed away at 3.27 p.m., Naresh Gujral, his son and a Rajya Sabha member from the Shiromani Akali Dal, told IANS.

Gujral was admitted to Medanta Medicity with a lung infection Nov 19 and was on ventilator. A team of nine senior consultants headed by Naresh Trehan kept a close watch on him.

He is survived by his two sons, Naresh, and Vishal Gujral, who was till recently a professor in the US, and three grandchildren. His younger brother is the famed artist and sculptor Satish Gujral.

His wife Sheila predeceased him in July 2011. Gujral earlier served as the external affairs minister in two non-Congress governments, serving under prime ministers V.P. Singh and H.D. Deve Gowda. Since retiring from active politics in 1999, he wrote his autobiography “Matters of Discretion” (Hay House) and was an active figure in the strategic and literary circles.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday paid rich tributes to former Prime Minister IK Gujral describing him as a “scholar-statesman” and said the loss from his death will be felt not only in India but across the world.

In a condolence message, Singh termed Gujral as “an intellectual, a scholar-statesman and a gentleman politician” who left a mark in every position he held.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing away of former Prime Minister Shri I.K. Gujral.... I personally have lost a friend of long standing, whose wisdom, idealism and deep concern for social equity left a great impression on me and whose counsel and opinion I often sought and valued greatly,” Singh said.

He described Gujral as “a man of peace, an idealist who lived by his principles and an intellectual with the human touch” and said his long and distinguished career was marked by diverse political and diplomatic responsibilities.

“In his passing away, the country has lost an intellectual, a scholar-statesman and a gentleman politician whose liberal and humanist vision was rooted in the teachings of the leaders of our freedom movement,” Singh said.

7-day state mourning
The Union cabinet declared a seven-day state mourning as a mark of respect to former Prime Minister I K Gujral who died in New Delhi on Friday.

“Gujral will be given a state funeral. The cabinet also declared state mourning of seven days as a mark of respect to the departed leader,” a senior minister said after the cabinet meeting.

It may be mentioned here that the Naga peace process started informally by the erstwhile P V Narasimha Rao regime had resulted in the first signing of formal cease-fire with NSCN (I-M) in 1997 during I.K. Gujral’s prime ministership.

 
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