The life after death for comrade Govind Pansare, 82, was exactly the way he had wished for. Just as Pansare's life was full of struggle, his final journey was also named as sangharsha yatra (procession of struggle), and his supporters took an oath that the fight start by their beloved leader would continue.
Amidst chants of 'Govind Pansare amar rahe' and 'Laal Salaam' (red salute), the senior communist leader was cremated at the banks of Panchganga river on Saturday. Breaking the traditions, Pansare's daughter Smita lit the funeral pyre, while the cremation was bereft of rituals.
As the news of Pansare's death reached Kolhapur late on Friday, the leader's supporters thronged to the city. Pansare's body was brought to Dasara ground for his supporters to pay their last respects as the crowd shouted "cowardly guns may have killed Pansare, but his thoughts will remain alive forever."
Pansare succumbed to bullet injuries on late Friday, give days after he was attacked by unidentified assailants when he and his wife were returning from a morning walk. The police, so far, have not been able to achieve any breakthrough in the case.
The octogenarian's funeral was attended by senior leaders across party lines and thousands of supporters. "For those of us who have been a part of movements, Pansare was the guiding force for us. His death has created a vacuum," Raju Shetti of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, said.
As a mark of respect, the city of Kolhapur observed a bandh on Saturday.
While many accused the police of being inefficient as the killers still remain large, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who was in Nashik, admitted "the attack on Pansare is the failure of the system."
While senior BJP leaders including Devendra Fadnavis was criticized for giving the cremation a miss, many were stunned to notice the absence of senior Left leaders. No senior Left leader from Delhi, including Sitaram Yechury, D Raja, Prakash Karat, attended the final rites.