Lakhs of people paid their last respects to the former Chief Minister, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, when his body was taken round the State capital and later laid to rest in his Idupalapaya Estate, a favourite sojourn of YSR, in his native Kadapa district.
Tearful mourners thronged the sprawling estate nestled between hills when YSR’s body was buried with State honours in line with the decision of the Union government. Army jawans carried the coffin from the helipad and as it lowered into the grave amid prayers by Christian priests and a gun salute by the State police.
Ms. Vijayalaxmi, wife of the charismatic leader, son Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and daughter Sharmila led the mourners in placing handfuls of soil on the coffin while YSR’s supporters standing at a distance raised slogans. YSR had personally supervised the raising of orchards and teak plants in the estate, but had surrendered nearly 1,000 acres of land following a controversy over the legality of its ownership.
The crowds were so huge that the well-laid out arrangements went for a toss and Chief Minister K. Rosaiah was himself caught in the melee. He was escorted to safety by the former Home Minister, K. Jana Reddy. Telugu Desam president N. Chandrababu Naidu, APCC president D. Srinivas, Praja Rajyam chief K. Chiranjeevi, several ex-Ministers, MPs and MLAs were among the thousands who could not attend the funeral due to massive traffic jams. Mr. Naidu returned from a point 10 km away from Idupulapaya after being held up for over three hours.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, BJP leader L. K. Advani, the former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, a host of Union Ministers and Chief Ministers, including Sheila Dixit, Ashok Gehlot and Ashok Chavan, earlier paid floral tributes to YSR whom many described as “a man of the masses.” Normal life throughout the State came to a standstill even as the government declared a holiday and ordered the national tricolour to be flown at half mast.
Ms. Gandhi and Dr. Singh drove straight from the airport to YSR’s residence where they met his family members and consoled them. A while later, the body was taken to the Congress party headquarters, Gandhi Bhavan, and then to the Lal Bahadur stadium before being flown to Idupalapaya in a helicopter. Throughout the day, Jagan Mohan Reddy responded to the gestures of the mourners with folded hands while standing atop the Army vehicle towing the gun carriage.
Police in Kurnool district recovered the cockpit voice recorder from the ill-fated Bell-430 aircraft which crashed into a hillside deep inside the Nallamala forests and registered a case on the death of YSR, his Special Secretary P. Subramanyam, Chief Security Officer A.S.C. Wesley and pilots Group Captain S.K. Bhatia and Captain M.S. Reddy.