Chennai: Streets of Chennai remained crowded to pay their last respects as late Chief Minister Jayaram Jayalalithaa’s body was taken to Marina beach. Draped in her favourite green colour saree, her body was put in a sandalwood casket and was laid to rest.
Jayalalithaa died overnight following a heart attack a day earlier in Apollo Hospitals. Top leaders of the country, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had flown to Chennai on Monday to pay homage to the four-time chief minister.
Jayalalithaa’s close aide Sasikala Natarajan performed her last rites at the MGR memorial. The MGR memorial is home to the mortal remains of Jaya’s mentor and AIADMK founder M. G. Ramachandran, the man who introduced the ‘puratchi thalaivi’ to the world of Dravidian politics.
Though Ms Jayalalithaa was a Brahmin and the rituals followed by the community say their mortal remains should be cremated, a decision was taken to bury her body. “One reason was MGR was also buried and not cremated and the another being since a memorial is planned, it was thought that we would cremate her body,” a source in the AIADMK said.
Before being moved to Marina beach, Jayalalithaa’s body, draped in the Indian flag, was kept on a raised platform at Rajaji Hall in Chennai and a sea of weeping mourners had gathered around it.
Thousands of police officers formed chains to stop the heaving crowd from surging up the steps. Men and women wept, some breaking into loud wails. Several mourners fainted from the heat and dehydration. Police said some had been keeping vigil outside the Apollo Hospital since Sunday and then walked to Rajaji Hall at daybreak.
Jayalalithaa’s body was taken from her Poes Garden residence early Monday morning to Rajaji Hall where hundreds and thousands of supporters queued up to have a last glimpse of their ‘Puratchi Thalaivi Amma’ (Revolutionary Leader Amma).
Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and his ministerial colleagues, MPs and MLAs and senior state government officials were among the first to pay homage to Jayalalithaa, who passed away at the Apollo Hospitals here at 11.30 last night after waging a grim battle for life since her hospitalisation on September 22.
Security had been beefed up at the venue where people lined up to bid a tearful adieu to their ‘Amma’ (mother) as the 68-year-old leader was fondly called. Cries of “Amma” rent the air as the public filed past taking a last glimpse of their beloved leader from a distance away from the stairs, where the Tamil Nadu Ministers were seated.
Jayalalithaa’s body was first taken to her Poes Garden residence in the early hours and then brought to the Rajaji Hall, before finally being buried at the MGR memorial.