Karunanidhi passes away: Karunanidhi laid to rest at Marina beach by his mentor’s side; lakhs bid adieu

Chennai: The mortal remains of M Karunanidhi, one of the country’s most charismatic and versatile politicians, were buried with full military honours at the Marina beach, just behind the resting place of his political mentor, C N Annadurai and close to that of his arch political foe J Jayalalithaa. The event was watched by thousands of teary-eyed mourners on Wednesday evening.

The final moments of the Dravidian Movement’s iconic leader were poignant with his family members, including sons M K Stalin, M K Alagiri and daughter Selvi, repeatedly breaking down while performing last rites in the presence of a host of VIPs and military officers. The national flag draped on Karunanidhi’s person was handed over to Stalin and his body was lowered into a casket that had the Tamil wordings that translated into, “The one who worked sans rest is resting here”. A 21-gun salute was given before his body was buried.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Chief Ministers of various States and an assortment of national and regional leaders landed in Chennai to pay their last respects to the man who was the architect of several coalition governments in New Delhi. Two people died and over 40 people who had come to pay homage to the leader sustained injuries when the crowd went out of control at Rajaji Hall. Order was restored only after the body was taken out of public view for some time and Karunanidhi’s son M K Stalin made an appeal to cadres to maintain calm and not to fall prey to designs to foment trouble. The peaceful last journey of the five-time Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president for nearly 50 years, was facilitated by the Madras High Court which in a special morning sitting (though courts were closed) directed the government to provide space at the memorial for Karunanidhi.

Also Read: Karunanidhi, the Kalaignar: Everything you need to know about his three marriages!

“Upon hearing the learned senior counsel on either side and considering the entire conspectus of the matter, the writ petition is allowed with a direction to the respondent authorities to provide a place for decent burial to lay the mortal remains of (Late) Dr Kalaignar M Karunanidhi, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, on the Marina beach, within the precincts of the burial place of the founder of DMK party and former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu (Late) Mr Annadurai, namely at Anna Memorial at Kamaraj Salai,” the operative portion of the order pronounced by a bench of Acting Chief Justice Huluvadi Ramesh and Justice S S Sundar read.

The DMK had moved the court after the AIADMK government refused its permission to conduct the final rites at the Anna Memorial citing court cases opposing building of memorials on the Marina, the world’s second longest beach. However, when those who filed the petitions agreed to withdraw them, the government counsel C S Vaidyanathan took a different stand arguing that the Marina could be provided for burial only to serving Chief Ministers. He contended that former Chief Ministers could be buried / cremated at Gandhi Mandapam.

The court dismissed the argument and the government chose not to appeal against the verdict due to a public outcry which saw leaders of major political parties including Rahul Gandhi insisting that Karunanidhi must be given a fitting tribute by giving him a resting place by the side of his mentor. Stalin, who was at Rajaji Hall when the court order came, broke down with folded hands prompting his half-sister Kanimozhi, party senior leader Duraimurugan and former Telecom Minister A Raja to hug and console him in front of thousands of supporters and live television cameras.

 Stalin later said that the government had refused the Anna Memorial site only with an ulterior motive of creating a volatile situation so that the DMK could be blamed for that. “Now that we have secured a court order, we should remain calm and conduct the funeral in a peaceful manner,” he said. Subsequently, after his father’s mortal remains were mounted on to a military gun carriage bedecked with flowers, he walked the stretch from the Rajaji Hall to Anna Memorial for about four kilometres on the final journey of the DMK patriarch. The hearse went through a sea of mourners with many of them breaking down upon seeing their Kalaignar lie motionless.

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