Fulfilling the noted Gandhian's final wish, 11-year-old Shambhavi Mishra on Friday performed the last rites of Nirmala Deshpande who passed away after a brief illness.
The 79-year-old Deshpande, who died in New Delhi on Friday, had expressed the wish that Shambhavi, who is the daughter of long-time close associate Vibhuti Mishra, should perform her last rites.
A large number of dignitaries, including a delegation from Pakistan, friends, admirers and relatives bid their final adieu as the mortal remains of Deshpande, who died here yesterday, were consigned to flames.
Vice President Hamid Ansari, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and AICC General Secretary Rahul Gandhi were among the dignitaries who were present at the cremation.
The five-member Pakistani delegation included Information and Broadcasting Minister Sherry Rehman, Kashmir Affairs Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, former MP Mansoor Ahmed and Labour Movement leaders Karamat Ali and BM Kutty.
Also present on the occasion were Union Ministers Saifuddin Soz, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Raghuvansh Prasad and Murli Deora.
Shambhavi, a student of St Mary School in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, said, "My grandmother loved me the most. I remember once when she had come over to Mirzapur, she had told my father that I should perform her last rites".
Deshpande had developed fondness for the child since she was born.
Shambhavi too developed a huge attachment towards Deshpande and learnt to play the synthesiser for her, said Vibhuti Mishra.