Chennai, December 6
Amid heart-rending scenes, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was on Tuesday laid to rest near the grave of her political mentor M G Ramachandran at the Marina beach here with full state honours.
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Soon after the rituals got over around 6 pm, the sandalwood casket carrying Jayalalithaa's mortal remains was lowered down after the traditional gun salute amidst emotional chants of 'Amma Vazhga' (Long Live Amma) by the thousands of people who had converged there.
Jayalalithaa's long-time confidante Sasikala Natarajan and the AIADMK supremo's nephew Deepak performed the last rites at the M G Ramachandran Memorial Site.
This included showering of flower petals and sandalwood pieces after which the casket was lowered, symbolising the culmination of the customary rituals of the last rites.
Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, Union Ministers M Venkaiah Naidu and Pon Radhakrishan, besides Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and former ministers Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mukul Wasnik also paid floral tributes on the occasion.
Earlier, the casket, which was placed at Rajaji Hall, was shifted to a flower-decked gun carriage doubling up as the funeral cortege to be taken to the burial site.
Sasikala, Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Akhilesh Yadav joined the funeral procession.
Milk and holy water were sprinkled on Jayalalithaa's body as part of the rituals.
Her body was covered with an AIADMK party flag red and white in colour with an image of Dravidian ideologue and former Chief Minister C N Annadurai.
Nails were then hammered in on the coffin that was engraved with the words 'Puratchi Thalaivi Selvi' (Revolutionary Leader) in Tamil, before being lowered.
Later, the pit where her mortal remains were buried was filled with sand and mud amid showering of flowers.
En route the funeral procession, those on board the cavalcade showered flower petals throughout even as followers and party men walked along chanting "Puratchi Thalaivi Amma Pugazh Onguga" (Let the reputation of Revolutionary Leader Amma grow).
Emotional men and women thronged terraces of high-rise buildings and on both sides of the road for a last glimpse of the departed leader, who was being taken in a long cavalcade of several vehicles besides the gun-carriage.
Amid tight security, which included the deployment of armed reserve and rapid action forces, the procession found its way to the famous Marina Beach peacefully.
Earlier in the day, President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew into Chennai to pay tributes to the late chief minister.
People in large numbers also thronged the Rajaji Hall grounds to pay their last respects to the AIADMK supremo.
Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and his ministerial colleagues, MPs and MLAs and senior state government officials were among the first to pay homage to Jayalalithaa, who passed away at the Apollo Hospitals here at 11.30 on Monday night after waging a grim battle for life since her hospitalisation on September 22.
Those who paid homage to her at Rajaji Hall included Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik, Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, Governor P Sathasivam and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda.
Visiting Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan also paid his last respects, as did a host of film personalities, including superstar Rajinikanth, actors Sarath Kumar, Sivakarthikeyan, Dhanush, actress Gauthami, besides veteran artistes who had worked with Jayalalithaa decades ago.
Scenes at Rajaji Hall was chaotic, even threatening to turn into a stampede, as distraught supporters broke barricades and police cordons on more an one occasion to glimpse their leader of one last time.
Crowd control became a challenge for policemen as supporters pushed past police barricades and ran to the place where Jayalalithaa’s body had been kept.
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi left the venue, hundreds began to march towards the VVIP entrance. As crowds swelled, VVIPs, including some ministers, left to make room to for the supporters.
Police were forced to resort to lathi charge on some occasions to control the crowd. As emotions ran high, tempers flared and several youngsters were seen having arguments with policemen.
Many women and elderly were seen pleading with policemen to help them get out of the queue. Some people, among them a former Rajya Sabha MP, even fainted.
The 68-year-old AIADMK supremo had suffered a massive cardiac arrest on Sunday and passed away last night at the Apollo Hospitals, where she had been hospitalised since September 22. — Agencies