India bids farewell to poet prime minister as Atal Bihari Vajpayee cremated at Smriti Sthal

Last Updated: Fri, Aug 17, 2018 18:03 hrs
Atal Bihari Vajpayee funeral

New Delhi: Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who passed away at the AIIMS in Delhi on Thursday, was cremated with full state honours at the Smriti Sthal on Friday.

The last rites for former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee were performed by his foster daughter Namita Bhattarcharya at the Smriti Sthal on the banks of Yamuna with full state honours.

Apart from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah, who had led the huge procession accompanying Vajpayee’s body from the party office to the funeral site, leaders of various political parties and other dignitaries were present at the spot.

Earlier, the mortal remains of the 93-year-old former prime minister were brought to the headquarters of the BJP where thousands gathered to pay their respects to one of India’s tallest leaders, who had been one of the main founders for the party.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah, Union home minister Rajnath Singh and chief ministers Raman Singh and Devendra Fadnavis were among those present at the BJP headquarters in Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg. Vajpayee’s friend for decades and senior BJP leader LK Advani also paid his tributes to him.

From President Ram Nath Kovind to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Congress President Rahul Gandhi, politicians from different political parties assembled at the venue where Vajpayee's last rites were performed.

Vajpayee's body was taken from his home to the BJP party office in New Delhi earlier in the day.

Flower petals were showered and "long live Atal-ji" slogans were raised as the former PM's cortege moved through the streets of Delhi to reach Rashtriya Smriti Sthal.

Vajpayee's mortal remains were kept overnight at Krishna Menon Marg residence where he had spent the last few years of his life.

Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind, former president Pranab Mukherjee, former prime minister Manmohan Singh paid their last tributes to the tall leader earlier in the day.

The body of the Bharat Ratna recipient, draped in the Tricolour, was brought to the BJP headquarters from his official residence at 6 A Krishna Menon Marg amid chants of ‘Atal Bihari Amar Rahe’ and ‘Vande Mataram’ by mourners, who accompanied the casket covered in white flowers.

Dignitaries from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka arrived in Delhi on Friday to pay homage to Vajpayee. "We are here to share your grief and pay our condolences on the behalf of people of Pakistan and the Government of Pakistan," said Pakistan Law Minister Ali Zafar.

Bhutan’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchu were among the SAARC leader who was present at the venue.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who was present at Smriti Sthal, said the South Asian region has lost a major votary of peace with the demise of Vajpayee.

The government of France also issued a statement, expressing grief over the demise of Vajpayee. "Poet, politician, visionary, he left his mark on India’s history. His name remains linked to the Indo-French friendship, which he shaped by launching the strategic partnership that has united our two countries since 1998," said the statement issued by the French regime.

Vajpayee, 93, had spent nearly six decades in public life before suffering a stroke in 2009 which left him speech-impaired. He was part of either Houses of the Parliament for a consecutive-50 years. The BJP patriarch held the prime ministerial post on three occasions - in 1996, 1998 and 1999. His last tenure ended in 2004.

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