December 6, 2016
Chennai: As political leaders cutting across party lines and lakhs of people poured into Chennai to bid a final tearful farewell to J Jayalalithaa, the capital city and in fact, the State, came to a virtual standstill today. This evening, the 68-year-old AIADMK chief and chief minister was laid to rest with State honours in a casket next to the memorial of her mentor MG Ramachandran.
After her death was officially announced late on Monday night, her body was taken to her Poes Garden residence, where following ceremonial rites as per tradition, her body was shifted to Rajaji Hall for people to get a final glimpse of their beloved leader draped in tricolor, lying in a flower-decked military truck, in her familiar bindhi, her favourite watch intact on her left wrist and a bangle on the right hand.
President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the chief ministers of eight states, including Arvind Kejriwal from Delhi and Karnataka’s Siddaramaiah, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and actor Rajinikanth were among the VIPs who paid their last respects. Opposition DMK treasurer MK Stalin and his sister M Kanimozhi MP also paid their last respects.
After paying homage to Jayalalithaa, Modi expressed his condolences to Jayalalithaa’s close aid Sasikala Natarajan and senior AIADMK leader and current Chief Minister O Panneerselvam.
Sasikala and her family members flanked the body and interacted with visitors, and even Panneerselvam, the staunch Jayalalithaa loyalist, was not be seen near the body.
Her body lay in state at Rajaji Hall for about ten hours before it was taken, in an hour-long procession over 3 km, to the final resting place at Marina Beach. As the body of the actor-turned-chief minister was carried on its last journey, the anguished crowds broke into wails. “Amma yenna vittutu poittaye (Mother, you have left me)”, cried an AIADMK woman cadre running behind the funeral procession. Thousands of AIADMK cadres were screaming, and beating their heads and faces in extreme sadness.
A burial identical to that given to former chief minister MGR was provided to Jayalalithaa. Sasikala and Jayalalithaa’s brother’s son performed the last rites. Union Ministers M Venkaiah Naidu and Pon Radhakrishnan participated in the rituals on behalf of the Union government.