DMK patriarch and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi was buried beside his mentor C N Annadurai on the sands of Marina beach here on Wednesday after his party clinched a midnight legal battle as lakh of commoners wept, pushed and jostled for space to bid adieu to their leader, causing a stampede that killed two mourners and injured many.
After a two-hour funeral procession covering a distance of less than 3 km headed by the late leader’s son and DMK Working president M K Stalin wound its way from Rajaji Hall to the Marina shores, the tri-colour wrapped body with his trademark black shades and yellow stole still in tact was interred in a freshly dug grave with soldiers giving him a state funeral with full military honours.
A military band played “Honouring Those Who Served” as the casket was taken from the cortege to the grave. Buglers sounded the last post and gunners fired a 21-gun salute after the body of the 94-year-old five-time Chief Minister was lowered at 7 pm amid a crescendo of slogans.
As Karunanidhi’s body on a flower-decked military vehicle began its last journey from Rajaji Hall, tens of thousands of emotionally-charged men and women lined up on both sides of the road to Marina, shouting slogans hailing the departed leader for his services to the poor and the downtrodden.
In keeping with his rationalist beliefs, Karunanidhi’s body in a sandalwood casket was lowered into the earth without religious rituals. As per his wish, the wordings – “The person who had worked without rest is resting here” — were sculpted on the casket.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi and a galaxy of national opposition leaders joined the sea of mourners from across Tamil Nadu who swelled outside Rajaji Hall where the body was kept since morning for public homage.
Those who paid last respects included Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar, National Conference President Farooq Abdullah, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Rashtriya Janata Dal ledear Tejashwi Yadav, CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, his predecessor Prakash Karat, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu
Naidu, Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayansamy, Karnataka Chief Minister H D
Kumaraswamy and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Some of the leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, Naidu, former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, Azad and Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien joined the top party leaders, including 95-year-old DMK General Secretary K Anbalagan, and members of Karunanidhi family at the burial site.