Deceased Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa was buried next to her mentor MG Ramachandran’s memorial off Marina Beach in Chennai on Tuesday evening. She was accorded a state funeral and honoured with a 21-gun salute.
Jayalalithaa was buried in a sandalwood casket, with “Puratchithalaivi Selvi J Jayalalithaa” engraved on it. She was often referred to as “puratchi thalaivi”, which means revolutionary leader. Her close aide Sasikala Natarajan (above left) did the final rites. She was accompanied by Deepak Jayaraman, the son of Jayalalithaa’s elder brother.
Apart from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Pranab Mukherjee, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, eight chief ministers, including Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal and Maharashtra’s Devendra Fadnavis, attended the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader’s funeral.
Before her last rites were performed, Jayalalithaa’s mortal remains travelled from her Poes Garden residence to Rajaji Hall, where it was kept for a few hours, and then to the burial site. Thousands of her supporters walked from Rajaji Hall, where her body was kept, to her funeral at the MGR Memorial. Giant screens were also put up at the burial site for fans and supporters to catch her last glimpse.
A government official told The Indian Express that Jayalalithaa was being buried, not cremated according to Hindu Brahmin rituals, because she was above any “caste or religious identity”. However, a political analyst, who has seen burials of several Tamil Nadu leaders in the past, said the cremation needs to be done by a blood relative. “The only blood relative left for Jayalalithaa here is Deepa Jayakumar [daughter of Jayakumar, Jayalalithaa’s late brother]. It is obvious that Sasikala clan doesn’t want to entertain Deepa anywhere near the funeral procession fearing a potential challenge,” he told the daily.
The police also beefed up security to ensure there was no violence during the funeral. Apart from policemen, there were personnel from the Rapid Action Force as well as the Army on the ground. Helicopters were also pressed into service to keep a watch from the top.
Jayalalithaa was declared dead at 11.30 pm on Monday after suffering a cardiac arrest the previous day. She had been hospitalised on September 22 for “fever and dehydration”, and was believed to have recovered significantly when her health declined once again.