Kalaignar Karunanidhi buried next to mentor Annadurai at Marina Beach
Lakhs of people had gathered to pay their respects to the leader, as police found it difficult to manage the crowd, and had to resort to baton-charging to maintain order.Updated: Aug 08, 2018, 23:07 IST
Five-time Tamil Nadu chief minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi was laid to rest with full state honours at Chennai’s Marina beach on Wednesday after a brief legal wrangle over the burial site, as a galaxy of top politicians and a massive throng of mourners turned out to pay their last respects to the Dravidian leader.
Wrapped in the Tricolour with his trademark black glasses and yellow shawl, the supreme leader of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) was buried next to his mentor and Tamil icon CN Annadurai as hundreds of thousands of his followers chanted “Thalaivar” (leader). His sandalwood coffin bore the inscription: “A person who continued to work without rest, now takes rest.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, former PM HD Deve Gowda, chief ministers Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal), Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh), K Chandrashekar Rao (Telangana), Arvind Kejriwal (Delhi), Pinarayi Vijayan (Kerala) and V Narayanasamy (Puducherry) were present at the funeral. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah, and Communist Party of India I(Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury were also in attendance.
Karunanidhi died on Tuesday at the age of 94 in a Chennai hospital where he had been admitted since July 28 with fever and infection
“In Chennai, I paid tributes to an extraordinary leader and a veteran administrator whose life was devoted to public welfare and social justice. Kalaignar Karunanidhi will live on in the hearts and minds of the millions of people whose lives were transformed by him,” Modi tweeted after meeting Karunanidhi’s family.
Karunanidhi’s son and heir apparent MK Stalin was seen crying inconsolably after touching his father’s feet before the casket with Karunanidhi’s body was lowered into the grave. In keeping with his rationalist beliefs, no religious rituals were performed.
Earlier on Wednesday, Congress leader Sonia Gandhi wrote a letter to Stalin, describing Karunanidhi as a “father figure”. “For me, Kalaignar’s loss is very personal. He always showed me great kindness and consideration, which I can never forget. He was like a father figure to me,” Gandhi wrote.
Emotions had run high since the morning amid a legal wrangle between Tamil Nadu’s AIl India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government and the DMK over the burial site. Shortly after Karunanidhi’s death was announced on Tuesday evening, the state government had rejected the DMK’s demand for a burial at Marina, citing pending litigation over ecological concerns. The DMK swiftly moved the Madras high court that began hearing the petition around midnight on Tuesday and resumed the hearing at 8am on Wednesday.
As several petitioners withdrew their objections, the high court rejected the government’s contention and said there was no legal impediment to the funeral at Marina.
“Considering the entire conspectus of the matter, the writ petition is allowed with a direction to the respondent authorities to provide a place for decent burial to lay the mortal remains of (late) Dr Kalaignar M Karunanidhi, former CM Tamil Nadu on the Marina Beach within precincts of the burial place of the founder of DMK party Anna Durai,” the order by the two-judge bench read. Stalin burst into tears as the order was delivered.
Nearby, tens of thousands of DMK supported jostled with each other to catch a glimpse of Karunanidhi, whose body was kept at the Rajaji Hall, and a stampede ensued, killing two people. The court’s order was greeted with loud chants of “Kalaignar Pugazh Onguga (long live Kalaignar’s fame)” by the cadre.
As evening fell, people lined the streets as the flower bedecked gun carriage inched its way to Marina from Rajaji Hall – the 3km journey taking more than two hours. Many crashed through the barricades while others perched precariously atop trees and lamp posts. Stalin and other male members of the family walked quietly behind the gun carriage as police threw a security cordon around them while DMK members chanted slogans in Karunanidhi’s memory.
In Delhi, as the two Houses of Parliament paid homage to Karunanidhi and adjourned for the day, the central government observed a day of national mourning. The national flag flew half-mast and all government functions were cancelled. Tamil Nadu is observing a week-long mourning period.
Karunanidhi is survived by two wives, four sons and two daughters. He had been suffering from age-related ailments and lung congestion for the past 18 months before being admitted in hospital, where he spent 11 days before his demise.