Bugles sounded, uniformed police personnel gave a gun salute and silence fell over the crowd as Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s mortal remains were consigned to the flames at the Payyambalam crematorium here on Monday evening.
His sons Binoy Kodiyeri and Bineesh Kodiyeri lit the pyre as cries of “You have not died, you will live in us” reverberated in the air, piercing the sombre silence.
His body was cremated in the middle of the memorial tombs of former Chief Minister E.K. Nayanar and former State secretary Chadayan Govindan. Both were formerly party State secretaries.
In a mark of respect, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, along with CPI(M) leaders, including Sitaram Yechury, M.A. Baby and Prakash Karat, thousands of mourners who arrived in large numbers took a long march as the cortege made its way from the CPI(M) district office to the Payyambalam crematorium grounds.
Reaching Payyambalam, Mr. Vijayan and other senior leaders shouldered the mortal remains to the funeral ground and gave the final salute before the pyres were lit.
The Chief Minister, who said that the loss of Balakrishnan can never be filled, turned emotional, abruptly ending his condolence speech. He silently broke in tears as other leaders of the CPI(M), the Congress, the BJP and other parties remembered their association with Balakrishnan.
Earlier in the day, several thousand people from various parts of the district and the State flocked to his house and later to the Azhikodan memorial, the CPI(M) district committee office in Kannur, to pay their last respects. The hartal called in the Thalassery, Dharmadam and Kannur constituencies was total. This helped the police control the people who stood in long, serpentine queues which stretched to several kilometres outside the party committee office.
Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, who paid his last respects, expressed his condolences to the family of Balakrishnan at the district committee office.
Besides CPI(M) leaders, Opposition Leader V. D. Satheesan, KPCC president K. Sudhakaran, RSS leader Valsan Thillenkeri, BJP leader C.K Padmanabhan and leaders of other parties also paid their respects to Balakrishnan.