Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK supremo Jayalalitha Jayaram’s funeral was held at Marina Beach with full state honours. Her body was buried in sandalwood casket next to her mentor and political guru MG Ramachandran. Her close aide Sasikala performed the last rites. Whereas some shocking incident of suicides and suicide attempts also comes when their beloved CM passes away news spread in the state.
The former Chief Minister’s body, draped in the national flag in a glass casket, was placed on a platform at a public hall for viewing through the day, drawing a humongous audience. Strewn with flowers, the casket was moved in an open-top army truck to Chennai’s famous Marina Beach, about three kilometres away.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee are among those attending the state funeral. Chief ministers of eight states like Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal and Akhilesh Yadav of Uttar Pradesh and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi attended Ms Jayalalithaa’s funeral. Apart from leaders from countries that have a significant Tamil population like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Singapore, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma also expressed grief over the AIADMK leader’s demise.
Her grave is located next to that of her mentor, MG Ramachandran.
Ramachandran, an actor turned politician, was instrumental in introducing her to politics. The fact that Jayalalitha was buried is unusual, as members of her caste are always cremated.
Thousands lined the route of the funeral procession and showered the hearse with flowers. Big photographs of Ms Jayalalithaa were placed all around the coffin and Ms Jayalalithaa’s long-time companion, Sasikala Natarajan and her family were seated next to it. Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who took oath last night hours after Ms Jayalalithaa died, also traveled on the hearse.
However, Sasikala Natarajan, who is considered her close confidante and has been with her right till her last days, managed to maintain her calm as she performed the last rights of the popular leader.
Extra police have been deployed in the state amid fears of unrest due to the extreme devotion she inspires among her supporters, many of whom refer to her as “Amma” (mother). There were concerns that they could resort to self-harm or violence, but crowds have been orderly and disciplined apart from a few minor scuffles.
In huge relief for the administration, there has been no violence since the news of Ms Jayalalithaa’s death. For lakhs whose devotion to her bordered on the religious, self-harming shows of loyalty were not uncommon. When she was arrested on corruption charges in 2014, her party said 200 people committed suicide in anger and sorrow. Public buses were set on fire. From within jail, the politician asked – as urged by the Supreme Court – for calm to be maintained.
Three people died apparently due to shock and two cases of suicide attempts were reported from Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore district after the news of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa demise spread.
In Singanallur, a 65-year-old painter complained of chest pain while watching television news on Jayalalithaa’s health in his house and died before being taken to the hospital, police said.
In another incident, Palaniammal (62) of Thudiyalur, died of shock after watching the TV news in her house, they said.