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Paramhans Ramchandradas cremated

The Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani at the cremation ceremony of Paramhans Ramachandrdas in Ayodhya on Friday. -- AP.

Ayodhya Aug 1 . The Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas chairman, Paramhans Ramchandradas, who spearheaded the movement for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya for more than half a century, was cremated here today.

Amidst chanting of slogans ``Baba tera swapna adhura, usey hum karenge poora'' (Baba, we will fulfil your unrealised dream), Vaishnav Das Shastri, a disciple of the Paramhans, lit the funeral pyre.

The funeral was attended by the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, the RSS chief, K.S. Sudarshan, the VHP working president, Ashok Singhal, the BJP president, M. Venkaiah Naidu, the Union Ministers, Murli Manohar Joshi and Rajnath Singh, the Uttar Pradesh BJP president, Vinay Katiyar, and the party's Madhya Pradesh unit president, Uma Bharti.

The procession was accompanied, among others, by Kalraj Mishra, Acharya Giriraj Kishore, Mahant Avaidhyanath, Yogi Adityanath and Hashim Ansari.

Unprecedented security was witnessed in and around Ayodhya in view of the visit of the Prime Minister and other VIPs as a large number of people took part in the funeral procession which started from Digambar Akhara, the abode where the Mahant breathed his last on Thursday.

Earlier, the funeral procession started on a tearful note with a large number of devotees lining up both sides of the streets of the temple town.

When the procession reached the VHP workshop here where stones for the proposed Ram temple are being carved, an `arti' of the Mahant was performed. The air was rent with chants glorifying the late seer and pledges for the construction of the Ram temple to realise the Mahant's life-long dream.

The sale of flowers had reached a flash point here with people thronging the shops to buy flowers to pay their tributes to the late Mahant.

It is not only the devotees who have been pained at the demise of the Paramhans. Even the monkeys at the Digambar Akhada have been restless. The simian population was agitated when the funeral procession of the Mahant was being taken out. Temple sources said the monkeys did not eat anything today and acted restlessly. The Paramhans used to feed the monkeys at the Akhada everyday with gram and guava fruit.

Bandh in pilgrim town

A report from Nasik said all religious activities for the ongoing Kumbh Mela were halted today while business establishments downed shutters in the pilgrim town of Trimbakeshwar, in response to a bandh to pay homage to the Paramhans. The bandh call was given by the national president of the Shambhu Panchnam Juna Akhada, Paramananda Saraswati, as a mark of respect to the Paramhans.

`Movement will go on'

Ayodhya Aug. 1. The VHP working president, Mr. Ashok Singhal, said the death of the Ramchandradas Paramhans would not deter the Ram temple movement but would inspire others to take up the cause with a more determined pledge.

The Paramhans was a sheet-anchor between the Government and the VHP in their parleys over the temple issue, but his death would not put an end to the process.

A report from Bhopal quoted the Madhya Pradesh Governor, Ramprakash Gupt, as saying that "the Paramhans had deep faith in Lord Rama. He never compromised with anyone on the issue of religion and truth".

The Chief Minister, Digvijay Singh, said the Paramhans would always be remembered for his social work.

New chairman

Mahant Nritya Gopal Das was appointed chairman of the Sri Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas after a formal meeting of the members this morning. He is the sixth Mahant of the 250-year-old Maniram Das Chhawni. — PTI, UNI

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