As the flames leapt from the sandalwood pile, enveloping the mortal remains of the late Prime Minister, there were anguished cries of "Lal Bahadur amar rahe."
As the flames leapt from the sandalwood pile, enveloping the mortal remains of the late Prime Minister, there were anguished cries of "Lal Bahadur amar rahe."
As the flames leapt from the sandalwood pile, enveloping the mortal remains of the late Prime Minister, there were anguished cries of "Lal Bahadur amar rahe."
Published on Jan 12, 2022 09:35 PM IST
Copy Link

New Delhi- Thousands sobbed, many stood with heads bowed, others raised folded hands in respectful tribute as the body of the late Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, was consigned to fire on the banks of the Jumna here today. 

As the flames leapt from the sandalwood pile, enveloping the mortal remains of the late Prime Minister, there were anguished cries of "Lal Bahadur amar rahe." 

At 12-32 Mr Shastri's eldest son, Mr Hari Kishan, lit the funeral pyre as the small arms fired three volleys in salute. Officers and men of the three Services, headed by the Chiefs of Staff, stood to attention and the army buglers sounded the Last Post. Priests chanted hymns from ancient scriptures. 

Under a nearby shamiana world leaders looked sadly on as the last rites were performed. President Radhakrishnan led the mourners. 

Earlier, it had taken three hours to bring the gun-carriage carrying the late Prime Minister's body from his official residence to the cremation ground. It was a sad, solemn journey-his last. 

Over a million had thronged the ground around the cremation site near Shanti Vana, while another million had lined the six-mile route of the funeral procession from No. 10 Jan Path. 

Touching moment 

About noon, the gun-carriage halted a few yards from the cremation platform. The bier was gently taken off by senior army officers and carried reverentially to the sandalwood pyre. The bearer party saluted and withdrew. It was a touching moment. Close relatives broke down and some of them had to be taken away by consoling friends. According to the ancient Hindu custom, Mrs Lalita Shastri was not present at the time of cremation, but Mr Shastri's daughters and daughter-in-law were there. 

The religious rites were conducted by the family head priest, Shri Raja Ram from Allahabad, assisted by Goswami  Girdharilal of the Lakshmi Narain Temple, Delhi. Mr Hari Kishan, with folded hands and bowed head, went round the pyre thrice. Prime Minister Nanda was among those who saluted the departed leader for the last time. 

At 10 Janpath, 40 officers drawn from the three Services had kept vigil over the body of Mr Shastri as it lay in state all night with heaps of wreaths and flowers on it. 

Shortly before 9-15 a.m. the gun-carriage was drawn up near the portico. The family priest performed religious rites. The pallbearers, drawn from the three wings of the Armed Forces, lifted the body draped in the national flag and placed it on the gun-carriage. An armed detachment presented and reversed arms and drummers beat muffled drums. Within minutes the procession started. 

It was headed by a military column, led by Maj.-Gen. D. G. R. Rajwade, General Officer Commanding, Delhi and Rajasthan Area. Immediately behind the gun-carriage were the chief vallbearers, the three Services Chiefs, foreign dignitaries and VIPs, two army platoons, an IAF band, two naval and IAF platoons followed by the motorcade. The eight-mile route was lined by the troops at the "order arms." When the funeral procession came into View, they stood to attention and presented arms as the carriage passed by them. Then they rested on reversed arms till the rear escort had passed. 

Huge crowds had collected all along the route since early morning, braving the cold weather for the "darshan" of the late Prime Minister. The local police had a tough time in controlling the crowd as it surged forward at many points. Near India Gate, in the Connaught Circus area and from Rajghat onward the procession virtually pierced through a solid mass of humanity. People showered garlands and flowers at Mr Shastrit body. A continuous shower of flowers was also maintained by a helicopter which hovered over the cortege most of the time. The roofs of buildings along the route, tree-tops and the Tilak Bridge were all packed by crowds anxious to pay their last tribute to the departed leader.

Mr Shastri's funeral was attended by dignitaries from many lands. 

Soviet Premier Kosygin led his country's delegation, which included Mrs Y. S. Nasiruddinova, Chairman of the Uzbek Supreme Soviet, and Deputy Foreign Minister Firyubin. 

The U.S. sent a strong 7-man delegation, led by Vice-President Hubert Humphrey and consisting of Secretary of State Dean Rusk, two former ambassadors to India, Mr John Sherman Cooper and Mr John Kenneth Galbraith, the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. Mr James Greenfield, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near-East and South Asia. Mr William Handley, and the Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for Food for Peace, Mr Richard Reuter. 

Afghanistan was represented by its Prime Minister, Mr Maiwandwal; UAR by its Vice-President, Mr Hussain el Shafi, and two other delegates; Yugoslavia by its Vice-President, Mr Jakov Blazevic and Secretary of the Foreign Ministry; Iran by Foreign Minister Aram and Canada by its Labour Minister. 

Queen Elizabeth was represented by Lord Mountbatten, while First Secretary of State George Brown represented the British Government. 

Other members of the party included Sir Paul Gore-Booth, Permanent Under-Secretary for Commonwealth Relations and a former British High Commissioner in India, and Lady Pamela Hicks, daughter of Lord Mountbatten. 

The British Opposition party leader Mr Edward Heath, accompanied by a team of 14 British officials, also attended the funeral. 

Pakistan Commerce Minister Ghulam Faruque and High Commissioner to India Arshad Hussain, who flew to New Delhi in the Soviet plane which carried Mr Shastri's body, represented their country. 

The Commonwealth Secretariat was represented by Mr N. C. Sen Gupta, head of the economic division of the Commonwealth Secretariat. 

France sent a four-man delegation, headed by Mr Louis Joxe, President de Gaulle's special envoy and Vice-Chairman of the French Council of Ministers. Other dignitaries included West German Co-operation Minister Walter Scheel; the personal representative of the King of Morocco, Mr Balafrej; Singapore Education Minister Ong Pang Boon; Thai Foreign Minister Khoman; leader of the Japanese ruling party Fu Nada and four others; Mr Rajasombash from Laos; Philippines President Marcos's brother-in-law; and Burmese Foreign Minister Thai Han and three officials. 

Hours after the funeral, hundreds of people---men, women and children-were still visiting the spot on the Jumna banks where the cremation took place. Among them were many foreigners. They went round the samadhi and offered flowers.




Close Story
Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Friday, January 21, 2022