NEW DELHI: Former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was cremated with full state honours at Rashtriya Smriti Sthal in New Delhi on Friday.
His body was cremated at Raj Ghat on the Jamuna riverbank where the cremations of Mahatma Gandhi and many other Indian national leaders were also completed.A host of dignitaries, including President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh paid last respect to him. Vajpayee’s daughter Namita lit the pyre.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and other SAARC leaders were present at the funeral.
After landing in Delhi airport, Mahmood Ali recalled contribution of Vajpayee to the independence of Bangladesh and recognition of the independence.
“I was a diplomat of Bangladesh High Commission in Delhi when Vajpayee was foreign minister. He was fond of Bengali songs,” Mahmood said.
Others attended the funeral include Pakistan’s acting Law and Information Minister Barrister Ali Zafar, Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Nepal Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, and former Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Vajpayee died on Thursday and his body was kept in his residence at 6-A, Krishna Menon Marg in New Delhi to show him last respect.The body was taken to the ruling BJP headquarters on Friday morning. Later, it was taken to Raj Ghat for cremation.
Narendra Modi and ruling BJP president Amit Shah reached the funeral spot marching with the body. They along with hundreds of party supporters and others walked for a three-and-a-half-kilometres road to go there. Congress President Rahul Gandhi and many other national leaders were present there and paid last respect to Vajpayee.
The body wrapped in the India’s national flag was accorded gun salute by soldiers. Later, the flag was handed over to his daughter Namita.
Chiefs of three services were present on the occasion.
Vajpayee passed away at a hospital in New Delhi on Thursday. He was 93.
Vajpayee was admitted to AIIMS hospital on June 11 with a kidney and urinary tract infection, low urine output and chest congestion, sources said.
The former three-time premier was put on life support as his health condition deteriorated over the last 36 hours.
India announced seven-day national mourning to mourn the death of the veteran political leader.
Vajpayee was such a politician who strongly condemned the religious violence in Gujarat when Narendra Modi was chief minister of the state.
Vajpayee was the first BJP leader to be sworn in as prime minister thrice and the first non-Congress premier to have completed a five-year term.
Born on December 25, 1924 in Gwalior, Vajpayee was elected 10 times to the Lok Sabha from four different States (the first time in 1957 from Balrampur in Uttar Pradesh), and was twice a Member of the Rajya Sabha in a storied career.
One of the founding members of the Jan Sangh in 1951, he became its president in 1968 upon the death of Deendayal Upadhyaya.