Steady stream of mourners choke his native Poolavari village

Senior Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Veerapandi S Arumugam (75), who died on Friday, was buried on Saturday beside the grave of his elder son A. Nedunchelian in Poolavari village near here.

Hundreds of mourners, including leaders and functionaries of the DMK and other parties, joined the members of the grieving family in paying homage.

While Salem city remained virtually shut ever since the news of his death broke on Friday afternoon, Poolavari, 15 km away, was choked with DMK cadres from all over Tamil Nadu and members of the public who stood in barricaded, long queues to pay homage. The body was taken in a procession for the burial.

DMK’s treasurer and youth wing leader M.K. Stalin, with whom the senior leader shared a ‘love-hate’ relationship, and his wife Durga were among the first to call on the family on Friday evening. Mr. Stalin stayed back at Arumugam’s house and led the funeral procession.

Leaders who paid homage included Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Vaiko, M. Natarajan, husband of Sasikala, Pattali Makkal Katchi president G.K. Mani, with whom he shared cordial relations cutting across political affiliation, Union ministers M. K. Alagiri, Jagatratchakan and S. Gandhiselvan and former ministers T. R. Baalu, A. Raja and Subbulakshmi Jegadeesan.

After placing a wreath, Mr. Vaiko told reporters that he had lost a friend, philosopher and guide. “I had a 40-year friendship with him. He was always compassionate and considerate. It is a great loss for the Dravidian movement.”

Mr. Alagiri said he had suffered a great personal loss.

Local functionaries of the Congress and other parties and representatives from trade bodies were also present.

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