SPECIAL COVERAGE
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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS



M A I N   N E W S

Santís cremation a peaceful affair
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ballan, June 4
A large number of people turned up at Dera Sachkhand to pay their last respects to Sant Ramanand, whose mortal remains were consigned to flames in a state funeral today.

Though the organisers had made elaborate arrangements for the people to have a darshan of their reverend preacher, the sheer numbers were beyond their expectations. Conservative estimates put the figure at over 1lakh.

Serpentine queues had begun forming even before the body reached the dera at about 7. 45 am by an Indian Air Force chopper from Delhi. After performing some religious rites, the body was placed at the gate of the satsang bhawan to enable the people to pay their respects.

Although the temperature hovering in the range of 44-45 degrees proved to be an energy sapper but it could not shake the faith of the multitude that patiently waited for their turn.

Such was the rush and heat by 11.30 that hundreds of women waiting in the open brought down the barricades and rushed towards the bhavan. However, dera volunteers along with the police stopped them near the building. They, however, were allowed to form an additional queue to have a glimpse of the body.

The dera management had to make announcements at regular intervals for the sangat to leave the venue and not hold up those waiting their turn after taking into consideration the increasing number of people.

The police, too, had made elaborate arrangements and its personnel were on their toes to ensure that the event passed off peacefully.

The cremation was held at at 3. 25 pm and the pyre was lit by Sant Surinder Dass Bawa in the presence of CM Parkash Singh Badal and his son, Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal.

A flip side of the ceremony was that the masses could not meet dera head Sant Niranjan Dass, who is recuperating from an injury sustained in the Vienna attack. Doctors attending on him did not allow him to move out of his room in the main temple.

Earlier, commenting on the Vienna trip, a member of the party that brought Sant Niranjan Dass and the body of Sant Ramanand said the former had suffered an injury where a bullet had grazed his left side. He was fine during the trip but did not talk much to anyone.

D S Guru, Principal Secretary to the CM, who headed the team told The Tribune that the Indian Embassy extended all possible help to them and it was touching gesture on the part of the Ambassador Saurabh Kumar and his deputy Achal Malhotra to personally see us off at the airport. They even came inside the plane and greeted the Sant and all of us before we flew back, he added.

Union ministers Ambika Soni, Selja, Perneet Kaur received the body at Delhi. MPs Rattan Singh Ajnala, Ravneet Bittu besides Naresh Gujral, accompanied them.

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