The funeral process of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who died in New Delhi on Thursday, started from the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters towards the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal on Friday around 2 pm. The last rites were performed at Smriti Sthal by his foster daughter Namita Bhattacharya.
Vajpayee’s body was kept at his official residence on Krishna Menon Marg overnight. A huge crowd had gathered outside the party’s office.
At the party headquarters, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath paid their last respects to the former prime minister.
Union minister Suresh Prabhu and BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav were also present, ANI reported. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav also paid their respects.
Bhutan’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk, Nepal’s Foreign Affairs Minister PK Gyawal, Sri Lanka’s acting Foreign Minister Lakshman Kiriella, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali and Pakistan’s Law Minister Ali Zafarar are among the international dignitaries who will attend the funeral, ANI reported.
Earlier in the morning, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Army chief General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat paid homage to Vajpayee at his official residence.
President of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party Shahbaz Sharif said India has lost a leader “whose services to regional peace will be remembered for long time”. “He [Vajpayee] and Nawaz Sharif launched a sincere peace effort [between] neighbouring countries in 1999. Wish India builds on his legacy by giving peace a chance.”
Since Thursday evening, the police have been installing CCTV cameras along the route that the funeral procession will take. The local police has been on duty at every intersection. Gunmen and snipers were also deployed.
More than 20 companies of the Delhi Armed Police and hundreds of paramilitary personnel guarded the cremation ground. The traffic police have closed arterial roads such as Krishna Menon Marg, Sunehri Bagh Road, Tughlak Road, Akbar Road, Tees January Marg, Man Singh Road, Bhagwan Dass Road, Shahjahan Road and Sikandara Road from 8 am. Some of the other areas to be closed are DDU Marg, Indraprastha Marg, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg – from Tilak Bridge to Delhi Gate – and Jawaharlal Nehru Marg from Rajghat to Delhi Gate.
Commuters looking to travel between North Delhi and the southern part of the city have been advised to use Aurobindo Marg, Safdarjung Road, Mother Teresa Crescent, Park Street and Mandir Marg, PTI reported. Those travelling between East Delhi and West Delhi can use Vikas Marg, Shahdara Bridge and Wazirabad Bridge to reach Ring Road.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Alok Kumar advised people to follow the department on Facebook and Twitter for traffic updates, The Indian Express reported.
The Tripura government declared a holiday on Friday to mark the former prime minister’s death.