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Narayanan cremated with full state honours

Special Correspondent

Kalam, Shekhawat, Manmohan present


  • Body kept at Kapurthala House for public to pay homage
  • Cremated at Ekta Sthal after chanting of an all-religion prayer and a 21-gun salute
  • Onlookers lined the route to the cremation spot

    NEW DELHI: The former President, K.R. Narayanan, was cremated here on Thursday evening with full state honours in the presence of his family and a galaxy of leaders, including his successor A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

    As the sun set, the mortal remains of Mr. Narayanan were consigned to the flames amid the chanting of an all-religion prayer and a 21-gun salute. The last rites were performed by his nephew P.V. Ramachandran in the presence of Mr. Narayanan's daughters, Chitra and Amrita, at Ekta Sthal. This is adjacent to Shantivan, the memorial of his mentor Jawaharlal Nehru on the banks of the Yamuna.

    Draped in the national tricolour, the body was brought to Ekta Sthal on a flower-bedecked gun carriage from Kapurthala House, where it had been kept since morning to facilitate the public to pay homage.

    The body was brought out of the building as the clock struck 3.30 p.m. in the presence of Mr. Narayanan's family, Governors S.M. Krishna (Maharashtra) and Gopalkrishna Gandhi (West Bengal), the three Service chiefs and many people who had come to offer their last respects. As the body was placed on the gun carriage and taken out, people lining the route to the cremation ground caught a final glimpse of the leader.

    In Kapurthala House, as the body lay in state, the quiet dignity associated with Mr. Narayanan was the order of the day as common people joined the country's top leadership and the diplomatic community to pay homage and offer condolences to his family. His wife Usha Narayanan — herself in failing health — visited Kapurthala House briefly. Her daughters remained there throughout.

    Soon after the body was brought to Kapurthala House from the Army Research and Referral Hospital, where Mr. Narayanan died on Wednesday, the President, the Vice-President and the Prime Minister paid homage. The other dignitaries included Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, the former Prime Ministers, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, I.K. Gujral and V.P. Singh, and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

    Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Revenue Minister K.M. Mani remained throughout and joined the funeral procession. The Kottayam district panchayat president, Thomas Kunnapally, and the Uzhavoor gram panchayat vice-president, Abraham Mathew, from Mr. Narayanan's village, placed wreaths sent by Mr. Narayanan's siblings.

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