National

M. Karunanidhi laid to rest

M. Karunanidhi laid to rest
Thousands pay their last respects to Karunanidhi as his cortege passes through the streets of Chennai.
CHENNAI, AUG 8 (IANS): | Publish Date: 8/8/2018 11:54:31 PM IST

 DMK patriarch and former Tamil Nadu chief minister, M. Karunanidhi was buried beside his mentor C.N. Annadurai on the sands of Marina beach here on Wednesday after his party clinched a midnight legal battle as lakhs of commoners wept, pushed and jostled for space to bid adieu to their leader, causing a stampede that killed two mourners and injured many.

After a two-hour funeral procession covering a distance of less than 3 km headed by the late leader’s son and DMK working president M.K. Stalin wound its way from Rajaji Hall to the Marina shores, the tri-colour wrapped body with his trademark black shades and yellow stole still intact was interred in a freshly dug grave with soldiers giving him a state funeral with full military honours.

A military band played “Honouring Those Who Served” as the casket was taken from the cortege to the grave. Buglers sounded the last post and gunners fired a 21-gun salute after the body of five-time chief minister was lowered at 7 p.m. amid a crescendo of slogans.

As Karunanidhi’s body on a flower-decked military vehicle began its last journey from Rajaji Hall, tens of thousands of emotionally-charged men and women lined up on both sides of the road to Marina, shouting slogans hailing the departed leader for his services to the poor and the downtrodden.

In keeping with his rationalist beliefs, Karunanidhi’s body in a sandalwood casket was lowered into the earth without religious rituals. As per his wish, the wordings-- “The person who had worked without rest is resting here” -- were sculpted on the casket.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi and a galaxy of national opposition leaders joined the sea of mourners from across Tamil Nadu who swelled outside Rajaji Hall where the body was kept since morning for public homage. There was a complete shutdown in the city and across the state. The government declared a public holiday as a mark of respect to Karunanidhi.

In Delhi, as the two Houses of Parliament paid homage to the last link of the Dravidian era and adjourned for the day, the central government observed a day of national mourning. The national flag flew half-mast and all government functions were cancelled.

2 dead in stampede

Chaos struck near Rajaji Hall, the British-built banquet hall in the sprawling government estate, where lakhs gathered eager to have a last glimpse of the leader. Their attempts to get near the casket resulted in commotion. Police used force to bring the situation under control but two people, including a 60-year-old-woman, lost their lives in the stampede. At least 35 people were also injured.

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