Indian cricketing legend Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, who passed away in the Capital on Thursday after battling a lung infection for weeks, was laid to rest beside his father at his native village in Pataudi here on Friday in the presence of a large number of family members, friends and villagers.
The last Nawab of Pataudi was bid a tearful farewell by people from Pataudi and nearby villages. Since morning, the villagers were milling around the streets moving towards the Pataudi Palace, where the burial rites were to be performed.
The road leading up to the palace was full of people over a distance of nearly two kilometres. And as the entourage comprising a hearse ambulance and several cars that carried the family members and friends made its way towards the palace, the crowds surged. There was a large deployment of police both within and around the palace but people were allowed easy access into the premises to begin with.
As a consequence, there was chaos on the palace grounds as thousands of people converged there to catch a glimpse of the proceedings.
The crowds erupted at the sight of Pataudi's wife and actor Sharmila Tagore, who emerged on the first floor balcony of the palace along with her son Saif Ali Khan's beau Kareena Kapoor. Ms. Tagore appeared calm and composed in the face of the tragedy, while her daughters Soha and Saba Ali Khan were inconsolable.
Among the cricketing fraternity were the former Indian cricket captain Kapil Dev, Ajay Jadeja, Atul Wassan and former coach Anshuman Gaekwad.
Other members of the family and friends also made an appearance along with Ms. Tagore. Actors Karishma Kapoor, Malaika Arora Khan, Amrita Arora and filmmaker Muzaffar Ali were also present.
Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan fondly remembered the former Indian cricket captain by his nickname. “Tiger was a good human being. We spent a lot of time together. It is a great loss and we are all here to pay our respects to the departed soul,” he said.
Among the political personalities to attend the ceremony were Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and BJP leader Arun Jaitley.
For the ordinary people too, it was an emotional moment. “We came to bid farewell to Nawaab saab, but there is no way of catching even a glimpse with these people around. He was a good man, and regularly visited the village,” said a woman who tried to push her way through the people along with her granddaughter.
The funeral procession began around 2.10 p.m. with Saif Ali Khan performing the last rites. Mourners recited the namaaz before the burial.
Some anxious moments were also witnessed as the police had to resort to a mild cane charge to disperse the increasingly restless gathering. First, the police used minor force in the front lawns of the palace and then again on the burial ground. A large number of Gurgaon traffic police personnel were also stationed all along the route leading up to the palace to direct and ensure smooth flow of traffic.
Earlier in the day, the body of Pataudi was taken from Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, where he died on Thursday evening, to his residence at Vasant Vihar in South West Delhi.