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Full military honours as nation bids farewell to poet prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee

The body of the BJP veteran was kept overnight at his official residence -- 6 A Krishna Menon Marg and was taken to the BJP headquarters at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg in the morning.

india Updated: Aug 17, 2018 16:40 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Atal Bihari Vajpayee dies,Atal Bihari Vajpayee dead,Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Mourners walks along the mortal remains of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at BJP headquarters, in New Delhi.(PTI Photo)

Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s funeral procession has reached Smriti Sthal on the banks of Yamuna in Delhi, where he will be cremated with full military honours.

The former prime minister’s last journey started on Friday from the BJP office amid a sea of supporters, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and many other leaders of the party walking the four kilometres alongside the carriage. At the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and the King of Bhutan were among those who paid homage to Vajpayee.

The cremation will be held soon.

Earlier, the mortal remains of the 93 -year-old former prime minister were brought to the headquarters of the BJP at the capital’s Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg where thousands gathered to pay their respects to one of India’s tallest leaders, who helped form the saffron party.

PM Modi, Amit Shah, Union home minister Rajnath Singh and chief ministers Raman Singh and Devendra Fadnavis were among those present at the BJP headquarters in Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg. Vajpayee’s friend for decades and senior BJP leader LK Advani also paid tribute to him. Advani was also present at the Smriti Sthal.

Watch | Atal Bihari Vajpayee: ‘Main jee bhar jiya, main mann se marun’

The body of the Bharat Ratna recipient, draped in the Tricolour, was brought to the BJP headquarters from his official residence at 6 A Krishna Menon Marg amid chants of ‘Atal Bihari Amar Rahe’ and ‘Vande Mataram’ by mourners, who accompanied the casket covered in white flowers.

The Union Cabinet had in May 2013 cleared a proposal to set up the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal along the Yamuna River in central Delhi for performing last rites of departed national leaders and for setting up their memorials.

Over 5,000 policemen and paramilitary personnel formed a multi-layer security cordon for a smooth passage of the funeral procession to the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal, Delhi Police said. Police personnel from each of Delhi’s 180 police stations have been drafted for security arrangements. Around two dozen of the anti-terror Parakram vans with commandoes will also be on duty.

Sniffer dogs, bomb detection and disposal squads, in coordination with the officials from the Special Protection Group (SPG), began sanitising the funeral route and the venue on Thursday evening, senior police officials said while ruling out inconvenience to the public.

Read: Why Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the BJP’s Pandit Nehru: Notes from a reporter’s diary

“We will ensure maximum security with minimum inconvenience to the public,” said Madhur Verma, Delhi Police spokesperson.

Police put restrictions on several roads in Delhi to ensure a smooth movement of the traffic and advised citizens to take alternate routes to avoid snarls as they expect thousands of mourners to reach central Delhi for the funeral of Vajpayee.

First Published: Aug 17, 2018 08:26 IST