Things progressed pretty fast after 12.15 am on Tuesday when Apollo Hospitals confirmed the demise of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa (her name is sometimes spelled Jayalalitha).
One of India's most charismatic political leaders, Jayalalithaa breathed her last after a bitter 74-day battle for life, ending an era in Tamil Nadu politics and plunging the state in deep grief. She was 68. A spinster, Jayalalithaa died after she suffered a cardiac arrest that derailed the halting progress she had been making on the health front.
"It is with indescribable grief, we announce the sad demise of our esteemed Honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Puratchi Thalaivi Amma at 11.30 pm," the hospital said in a statement. As Jayalalithaa's death became known, a loud wail rent the air outside the Apollo hospital where thousands had gathered since her cardiac arrest on Sunday evening, hoping against hope that she would survive. Two hours after the announcement of her death, in a swift political transition, her loyalist O Panneerselvam was sworn in as Chief Minister at a sombre ceremony at the Raj Bhawan along with all the ministers in the erstwhile Jayalalithaa Cabinet.
All these administrative decisions aside, the Tamil Nadu government announced seven-day mourning period in the state and also said that schools and colleges will be shut for the next three days. It was also decided that Jayalalithaa will be laid to rest next to her mentor MG Ramachandran in Chennai's Marina Beach.
Here is how the Tamil Nadu government has planned Jayalalithaa's funeral.
Will be laid to rest next to MGR
Probably one man who was responsible and highly-instrumental in Jayalalithaa's success in politics was actor, filmmaker and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Marudhur Gopalan Ramachandran or lovingly referred to as MGR. Thrice elected as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, MGR was a maverick and helped Jayalalithaa create her political base. Therefore, it came as no surprise when AIADMK announced that the late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister will be laid to rest next to MGR at the Marina Beach.
Where and when
After AIADMK cadre brought Jayalalithaa's body to her Chennai residence (in Poes Garden), the party announced that the funeral will take place at 4.30 pm at Marina Beach with full state honours. The coffin was soon taken to Rajaji Hall, in the heart of Chennai off arterial Anna Salai, where the public paid their last respects to their favourite leader. Four armymen covered her body with the Tricolour at Rajaji Hall.
Security at Marina
Sources in Chennai told Firstpost that Kamarajar Salai or the road leading up to the MGR Memorial in Marina beach was heavily fortified with immensely tight security. "Several dignitaries, including the President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and other senior politicians will be present at the funeral. Police has put Chennai under a lockdown and till now security is air-tight," the source said on the condition of anonymity.
According to Pheba Mathews of The News Minute, who is in Chennai reporting on the issue, Jayalalithaa will be buried, and not cremated as per Brahmin traditions, which she was born into. Police has been deployed and the entire stretch of Marina Beach has been cordoned off. Firstpost also found out that public will be allowed to observe the funeral.
Full state honours to be accorded
The Tamil Nadu state government has announced that Jayalalithaa will be accorded full state honours at her funeral and a seven-day mourning period has also been announced.
Life virtually came to a grinding halt on Tuesday morning as entire Chennai had joined everyone else at the Rajaji Hall. Deserted roads, shops with downed shutter spoke louder than any slogan ever could Public transport services, including auto rickshaws, were off the roads while some private vehicles were seen plying in various parts of the city where police personnel kept a tight vigil at vantage points. A near total shutdown like situation prevailed in the city and several other parts of the state since Monday evening itself.
The Centre also declared one-day state mourning across the country in view of Jayalalithaa's death and said the National Flag will fly at half-mast in all state capitals including Delhi. The central government also decided to accord state funeral to the departed leader. "The Government of India today announced with profound sorrow the death of Selvi J Jayalalithaa, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, yesterday at Chennai.
"As a mark of respect to the departed dignitary, the Centre has decided that the national flag will fly half-mast in the capitals of all States/UTs, including Delhi and throughout the State of Tamil Nadu," an official statement said.
However, the focus on Tuesday turned to Rajaji Hall where Jayalalithaa's body is lying in state to enable public pay their homage. With even tea stalls, which usually do a brisk business in the early hours, remaining closed, mobile tea vendors could be seen dispensing the brew at some places. Hotels remained closed too. Suburban train services, however, were being operated in the city, albeit with lower passenger rush. Long distance trains arriving at Chennai Central and Egmore stations were on time.
The state government has declared a holiday today for its offices and three-days for educational institutions as a mark of respect to the departed leader.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Dec 06, 2016 12:50:27 IST