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Last Updated : Aug 17, 2018 07:03 PM IST | Source: PTI

India's top leadership, foreign dignitaries and common man bid farewell to Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Chief ministers, opposition leaders, chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force, governors and a host of other dignitaries attended the funeral of Vajpayee at Rastriya Smriti Sthal.

India's top leadership, foreign dignitaries and the common man mourned the death of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and bid an emotional farewell to the former prime minister who was one of the most-loved leaders in decades and had acceptability across a diverse ideological spectrum.

Chief ministers, opposition leaders, chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force, governors and a host of other dignitaries attended the funeral of Vajpayee at Rastriya Smriti Sthal, a picturesque cremation site at the heart of the capital.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, BJP president Amit Shah, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, veteran politician L K Advani, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Army chief General Bipin Rawat, Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa and Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba laid wreaths.

Other attendees of the funeral included Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Union ministers Harsh Vardhan, Ram Vilas Paswan, Shripad Naik and Piyush Goval. Chief ministers, including Yogi Adityanath, Nitish Kumar, Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Vijay Rupani also attended the funeral.

Foreign dignitaries such as Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Afghan politician Hamid Karzai and Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali also paid last respects to the leader.

Other political leaders at the funeral were Congress president Rahul Gandhi, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, BJP leaders Murli Manohar Joshi, SAD patriarch Parkash Singh Badal and Congress leader Raj Babbar.

The country bid farewell to its political icon amid a light drizzle. Foster daughter Namita Kaul Bhattacharya lit the pyre as cries of "Atal Bihari Amar Rahe" reverberated through the cremation site.

Scores of people gathered at the Sthal to pay their respects to the tall leader, who was cremated with full state honours. Vajpayee, 93, died at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here last evening after a prolonged illness.

Amid sultry weather conditions, thousands of people walked along the over seven km-long route with some showering petals at the carriage. Heavy security was deployed along the route of the procession.

During the procession, people chanted slogans like "Atal Bihari Amar Rahe" as Vajpayee's cortege made its way from the BJP headquarters to the cremation ground.

Last night, Vajpayee's body was taken to his official residence on Krishna Menon Marg from AIIMS where he was admitted in June. Police have made elaborate security arrangements for the funeral procession, officials said.
First Published on Aug 17, 2018 06:58 pm
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