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Union Minister Sunil Dutt passes away

Mumbai bureau

End of the saga of a veteran actor and peace activist; thousands throng house to pay homage


  • 30, 000 people line road leading to crematorium
  • Manmohan, Sonia pay respects personally
  • "A true soldier, a Gandhian," says Om Puri



    Sunil Dutt ... . end of an era

    MUMBAI: Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Sunil Dutt died in his sleep on Wednesday morning following cardiac arrest in his home in the western suburb of Bandra here. His family discovered this around 11 a.m when he did not wake up.

    As news of the death of the well-respected actor, politician and peace activist spread, thousands converged on his Pali Hill residence. Throughout the day a stream of film stars, politicians and people gathered on the roads leading there. Hundreds of Congress party workers, shouting "Sunil Dutt zindabad," filled the street. Mr. Dutt lived in the constituency that returned him to Parliament five times as a member of the Congress.

    To enable people to pay their respects, the body was moved to another building in the afternoon. Old and new film actors, from Waheeda Rehman, Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu — Mr. Dutt's contemporaries — to the generation of his actor-son Sanjay, such as Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Sunil Shetty, Vivek Oberoi, Ajay Devgan, Rani Mukherjee, Kareena and Karishma Kapoor paid their respects.

    Other actor/politicians and MPs, cutting across party lines, including Shatrughan Sinha, Jayaprada, Hema Malini, Vinod Khanna, Raj Babbar and Govinda came to Mr. Dutt's residence. Amitabh Bachhan and his wife Jaya, Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar, Yash Chopra, Firoz Khan, Anupam Kher and Mahesh Bhatt were amongst the other prominent film personalities present.

    Shortly before the body, draped in tricolour, was taken in an army truck to the Chanderbari crematorium in Santa Cruz, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi flew down from New Delhi to pay their last respects. Governor of Maharashtra S.M. Krishna accompanied them. Congress general secretaries Ambika Soni and Margaret Alva, former Chief Ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh Ashok Gehlot and Digvijay Singh, senior Congressman Ahmed Patel, Union Ministers Prithviraj Chauhan and Vilas Muttemwar and Rahul Gandhi were with them.

    Dr. Singh, Ms. Gandhi and the others spent 15 minutes with the Dutt family before returning to the airport. Speaking to the press about what Mr. Dutt meant to people, veteran actor Om Puri said, "He was a true soldier without a gun. Although life had played many tricks with him, he always overcame them."

    Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said Mr. Dutt was a man who worked for world peace and his passing would leave a big void.

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