A huge crowd converged at Har ki Pauri here today to bid final farewell to their beloved leader and former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as his ashes were immersed in the Ganga river by family members and BJP leaders.
Top party leaders including BJP president Amit Shah, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, his Uttarakhand counterpart Trivendra Singh Rawat, his adopted daughter Namita Kaul Bhattacharya and other family members of Vajpayee were present as the urn carrying his ashes was emptied into the river amid chanting of vedic hymns.
A platform had been especially raised at Brahmakund below the stairs leading into the river where the rituals were performed.
The ashes of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will be immersed at Har-ki-Pauri in Haridwar on Sunday. Before the immersion at Har-ki-Pauri, the family is taking three urns of ashes to Prem Ashram. His ashes will be immersed in various rivers across the country.
Earlier a sea of humanity followed the flower bedecked truck that carried Vajpayee’s urn through the narrow 2 km stretch in reverence to the departed leader.
The convoy started from Bhalla college ground and went to Har Ki Pauri with a host of party leaders and family members in attendance.
People were also seen standing on the balconies and rooftops to witness the slow passage of the convoy carrying the urn through overcrowded streets.
Vajpayee’s son in law Ranjan Bhattacharya carried the urn through the surging crowds to Brahmakund (Har Ki Pauri) where it was later immersed in the Ganga amid elaborate rituals performed by “Teerth purohits” (priests) and the cries of “Atal Ji Amar Rahein” rent the air.
The rituals lasted around 20 minutes as a huge crowd waited at the ghats on either side of the river to witness the process in total reverence.
It was during Vajpayee’s tenure as Prime Minister that Uttarakhand was granted statehood in 2000.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, his Uttarakhand counterpart Trivendra Singh Rawat among others are present for the ‘asthi kalash yatra’ that is being carried out for the late PM.
Earlier in the day, Vajapyee’s foster daughter Namita Kaul Bhattacharya and granddaughter Niharika collected his ashes from the Smriti Sthal where he was cremated on August 17.
“His (Vajpayee’s) ashes will be immersed in various sacred rivers across the country and the ‘asthi kalash’ taken to all the districts headquarters and state capitals. Prayer meetings will take place in the state capitals, district headquarters and at the panchayat level,” BJP leader Bhupender Yadav said.
An all-party prayer meeting will be organised for the BJP stalwart on August 20 in Delhi and a similar meeting will be organised in Lucknow on August 23.
The former PM, who died on August 16, was cremated with full state honours the next day. President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali and Pakistan’s Law Minister Ali Zafar were among the thousands who attended the last rites of the former PM.
Namita lit the pyre as cries of “Atal Bihari Amar Rahe” reverberated in the air. Thousands of mourners had poured into the streets as Vajpayee’s cortege made its way from his home to the BJP headquarters on Deendayal Upadhyay Marg and then to the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal.
Breaking the protocol, Modi along with BJP president Amit Shah walked behind the gun carriage decorated with flowers for the entire route of nearly 3.5 kilometers. He said that people came from all parts of India and from all sections of society to pay tributes to an extraordinary personality who made an extraordinary contribution to the nation.