Thousands of supporters are mourning the death of Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa who passed away at midnight at the age of 68.
The movie star-turned-politician was popularly known as Amma by party workers, voters and acolytes. The ailing chief minister suffered a cardiac arrest on December 5.
The AIADMK leader’s Tricolor-draped body was kept at Rajaji Hall in Chennai, as grieving supporters lined up to pay their last respects. Jayalalithaa was one of India’s most popular leaders and had an almost god-like stature in the eyes of her supporters.
Jayalalithaa’s supporters had kept a steady vigil all through her long treatment at Chennai’s Apollo Hospital. Prayer meetings were organised at temples for her quick recovery.
Since early morning, supporters started congregating at the hospital where she was treated.
After rumours of her death started circulating, scuffles broke out between the highly emotional crowds at the hospital. Police presence has been beefed up in Chennai to ensure that the outpouring of public sentiment does not result in violence.
Chennai came to a standstill as the state government declared a seven-day mourning period beginning Tuesday. Schools, colleges, offices and businesses will remain closed for the next three days, which have been designated a public holiday in the state.
The centre also announced one day of national mourning for the leader and Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day. Leaders across political parties, including prime minister Narendra Modi, will head to Chennai to pay their respects.
Across the country, scenes of grief played out at various places, as people gathered to bid goodbye to Amma.