Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was cremated with state honours at the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal in New Delhi on Friday.
The 93-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party leader died at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences on Thursday evening after a prolonged illness. The last rites were performed by his foster daughter Namita Bhattacharya.
Thousands of people joined the funeral procession to Smriti Sthal and walked along the more than seven-km long route. Slogans such as “Atal Bihari Amar Rahe” were shouted during the procession.
BJP President Amit Shah, chief ministers such as Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Vijay Rupani, Devendra Fadnavis and Adityanath joined the procession to the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal.
President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, among many others, were seen offering floral tribute to Vajpayee at Smriti Sthal.
Among the leaders present at the site for the last rites ceremony were Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Rahul Gandhi.
The former prime minister was accorded the last salute. The tricolour which was used to drape his mortal remains was given to his granddaughter.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath announced that the ashes of the former prime minister will be “spread in every river” in the state to “respect his grand stature”, ANI reported. Adityanath said this decision had been taken as Uttar Pradesh was Vajpayee’s karmabhoomi (land of action), and because people should get the opportunity to be part of his last journey.
The Uttar Pradesh government also provided a list of the districts and rivers in which Vajpayee’s ashes will be submerged.
The police had installed CCTV cameras along the route that the funeral procession took place. The local police were 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 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.