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Venkataraman cremated with state honours

President Pratibha Patil paying homage to the former President, R. Venkataraman, at Ekta Sthal in New Delhi on Wednesday.

President Pratibha Patil paying homage to the former President, R. Venkataraman, at Ekta Sthal in New Delhi on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: R.V. Moorthy

Staff Reporter

Pratibha Patil, Hamid Ansari, Abdul Kalam, Advani pay last respects to former President

NEW DELHI: The former President, R. Venkataraman, was cremated at Ekta Sthal here on Wednesday with full state honours amid the chanting of Vedic hymns.

President Pratibha Patil; Vice-President Hamid Ansari; the former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam; the former Vice-President, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat; and the former Prime Minister, I.K. Gujral, were among the dignitaries present.

Mr. Venkataraman died of multiple-organ failure on Tuesday.

The body of the 98-year-old leader was brought on a flower-bedecked gun carriage from his Safdarjung Road residence in a procession escorted by platoons from the Army, the Air Force and the Navy.

The carriage passed through Akbar Road, Tilak Marg, Jawahar Lal Nehru Marg and Ring Road before reaching Ekta Sthal.

Prior to the rituals, representatives of all religions offered prayers.

The mourners, including members of Mr. Venkataraman’s family, stood silently as the body was brought to the cremation ground to the accompaniment of the ceremonial band.

As his eldest son-in-law, K. Venkataraman, lit the funeral pyre, the ceremonial battery gave a 21-gun salute and jawans sounded the “Last Post” and “Rouse.”

Others dignitaries present at the cremation were External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee; Defence Minister A.K. Antony; Home Minister P. Chidambaram; the former Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani; Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit; and the former Home Minister, Shivraj Patil.

The government on Tuesday announced a seven-day State mourning. There will be no official entertainment, and flags will fly at half-mast on all government buildings.

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