It was only late on Saturday night that police approached the officials of a crematorium in south-west Delhi for an early morning cremation of the 23-year-old gang-rape victim.

The cremation plans were kept a secret till the last moment as police apprehended a large gathering may cause problems.

Fearing law and order problems, authorities also wanted the last rites to be performed at 6.30 a.m. but their plans did not go through as Hindu traditions did not allow cremation before sunrise.

At 7.30 a.m. the emotional father of the victim, who fought a brave battle for life for 13 days, lit the funeral pyre in the presence of her brothers, relatives and others.

Police had approached the officials of New Indian Education and Cultural Society running a crematorium in Dwarka at around 10 p.m. on Saturday and told them to arrange for cremation at 6.30 a.m. today.

“We were told about the victim. We made arrangements. Our priest Vijender Sharma guided the rituals.

“The cremation was planned at 6.30 a.m. but as per Hindu traditions, we cannot conduct such rituals before sunrise. So we had to wait till 7.30 a.m.,” Sunil Kumar, manager of the society, said.

The body, which was brought to Delhi from Singapore in a special aircraft of Air India, was taken to the victim’s residence amid heavy security at around 3.30 a.m..

A large number of Delhi Police, RAF and BSF personnel in riot gear accompanied the ambulance carrying the body to her house. The locality around her house was also fortified.

After performing rituals at home, the body was taken to the crematorium in an ambulance with similar security arrangements.

A senior police official said the security arrangements were made to ensure that the cremation takes place peacefully.

There were violent protests last weekend following the gang-rape and brutal assault on the 23-year-old girl.

The family and relatives were brought to the crematorium in a bus accompanied by police.

At the crematorium, the entrance was blocked for public and media.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi went to airport to receive the body and console the family.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit went to the crematorium and placed a wreath. Minister of State for Home Affairs R P N Singh, West Delhi MP Mahabal Mishra and Delhi BJP chief Vijender Gupta also attended the cremation.

Police had approached the government yesterday and proposed that the body be taken directly to Ballia in UP via Lucknow or Varanasi but the government decided against it, sources said.

More In: National | News | Delhi | States