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  India   All India  07 Dec 2016  Farewell to Tamil Nadu's 'Iron Lady' Jayalalithaa

Farewell to Tamil Nadu's 'Iron Lady' Jayalalithaa

AGENCIES | C S KOTTESWARAN
Published : Dec 7, 2016, 2:15 am IST
Updated : Dec 7, 2016, 10:50 am IST

Close aide Sasikala, with Amma’s nephew by her side, performs the last rites.

A sea of people gather to see former Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa’s funeral procession in Chennai on Tuesday.  (Photo: PTI)
 A sea of people gather to see former Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa’s funeral procession in Chennai on Tuesday. (Photo: PTI)

Chennai: A sea of humanity, comprising lakhs of grieving men and women, bid a tearful adieu to Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa, who held sway over the state’s politics for over three decades, as the AIADMK supremo was buried here with full state honours, right next to her mentor MGR on the majestic Marina Beach, as impassioned cries of “Amma” filled the air.

The sea breeze and the 21-gun salute set off further spells of crying and chest beating by party cadres shouting “Puratchi Thalavi Amma” (revolutionary leader) as they watched the ceremony on giant screens put up by the state information department. The city police and the Chennai Corporation said around two lakh people were near the burial site, while the total number of people who paid last respects to the “Iron Lady” at Rajaji Hall, where the body of 68-year-old Jayalalithaa lay in state since early morning, could have been between six to eight lakhs. The crowd swelled so much at times that the police had to use mild force to keep things under control.

Soon after the rituals got over at around 6.10 pm, the sandalwood casket with Jayalalithaa’s mortal remains was lowered into the ground in a pit located some 60 feet from the place where MGR had been lowered into the ground 29 years ago. Like her mentor MGR, Jayalalithaa also had the party flag draped on her body and her trademark wristwatch on her hand. Jayalalithaa’s longtime close aide Sasikala Natarajan and the AIADMK supremo’s nephew J. Deepak performed the last rites with the aid of a Brahmin priest at the memorial site. The rituals included sprinkling of water, offering of rice, showering of flower petals and sandalwood pieces. Members of the three armed services also paid their respects and gave a guard of honour.

The mortal remains of Jayalalithaa were earlier taken from her Poes Garden residence to Rajaji Hall, hours after she died at Apollo Hospitals late Monday night after battling for life there for 75 days.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Tamil Nadu governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, Union ministers M. Venkaiah Naidu and Pon. Radhakrishan, DMK leader M.K. Stalin and superstar Rajnikanth were among those who paid floral tributes. Senior AIADMK leaders and MLAs later showered flower petals and currency notes before the civic staff completed the burial work.

Moments after chief minister O. Panneerselvam’s convoy left, the public and party cadres thronged to the burial site to have a glimpse of the place where their leader was laid to rest. All roads leading to Marina Beach wore a deserted look, with mounds of footwear, plastic bottles and flowers strewn all around. Official sources said more than two tonnes of flowers were used to decorate the gun carriage, that was later a big hit with the crowd as they took selfies with it late into the night.

Tricolour at half-mast nationwide
The Centre declared one-day state mourning and the national flag on all government buildings across the country was flown at half-mast on Tuesday as a mark of respect to J. Jayalalithaa who passed away in Chennai the previous night.  

Parliament said the country has lost a courageous and charismatic leader, before adjourning the proceedings for the day. After paying tributes to Jayalalithaa, who was also a Rajya Sabha member from 1984-89, members in both Houses stood in silence for a brief while.

Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari said that the country has lost a prominent leader, distinguished Parlimentarian and an able administrator.

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said the country has lost a highly popular, courageous and eminent public persona.

Tags: j jayalalithaa, jayalalithaa death