‘State funeral not mandatory for Padma Shri recipients’

In memoriam: Young cricketers pay homage to Ramakant Achrekar at Central Maidan on Thursday. Vibhav Birwatkar   | Photo Credit: Vibhav Birwatkar

Amid controversy over the Maharashtra government not extending State funeral to celebrated cricket coach Ramakant Achrekar, Protocol Minister Ram Shinde said that it was not mandatory to extend a State funeral to recipients of the Padma Shri award.

Mr. Shinde told The Hindu, “The State government could not get enough time to plan everything at the last moment. It is not mandatory to extend a State funeral to a recipient of the Padma Shri award. However, we did send a representative of the State government and followed all the procedures.”

An officer from the protocol department said that as per the rules, an officer of the rank of tehsildar has to be present at the funeral of a Padma Shri awardee and offer floral tributes. “We did act as per the rules,” said Mr. Shinde.

The State government had asked Housing Minister Prakash Mehta to be present at the funeral. He said, “As a government representative, I’m sorry. This is sad and unfortunate from our part and I will check what was the problem.” Mr. Mehta said he would speak to the Chief Minister on the matter.

He said, “I got an intimation from the Mantralaya only half an hour ago and rushed here. I will find out what went wrong and whether there was a lack of communication.”

Speaking to reporters at Shivaji Park crematorium, Mr. Mehta said he had represented the State government owing to the absence of Vinod Tawde, the Minister for Sports.

A senior official from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said, “We were not informed by the protocol department about the requirement for funeral with State honours. Normally, the General Administration Department puts up a file and the Chief Minister approves it. But in this case, we did not receive even a phone call.”

Mr. Shinde said, “Generally, decisions on according someone a State funeral are taken by the CMO. Had I been intimated on Wednesday night, I would have certainly taken up the issue and ensured that Achrekar Sir got a State funeral. When a public personality dies, the State government, depending upon the situation, decides whether to perform the funeral with State honours or not.”

An official from the General Administration Department (GAD) said, “This [practice] has nothing to do with whether the person received any civilian award.”

Meanwhile, MNS chief Raj Thackeray tweeted, “Ramakant Achrekar, coached cricket to Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar and many more remarkable players of our country. A recipient of the Padmashri award and yet the state government chose not to honour him with a state funeral. We need an answer from the government regarding this.”

NCP national spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “When actor Sridevi passed away, the CM rushed to the funeral and made sure she received State honours. Disrespect towards Mr. Ramakant Achrekar is deplorable and Devendra Fadnavis should apologise to the nation.”

(With PTI inputs)

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Printable version | May 5, 2021 2:40:19 PM |

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