Lakhs of men today bid a tearful farewll to legendary Dravidian leader M Karunanidhi as he was buried with full state honours alongside his mentor and DMK’s founder and its first Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu C N Annadurai in the Marina.
As the buglers sounded the Last Post and men from the three services gave a 21-gun salute, the mortal remains of Karunanidhi were lowered into the grave at sunset, marking the end of an epoch. Karunanidhi himself prepared an epitaph, reading “here lies a man who knew no rest in his life”.
It was a rest he never had ever since entered public life from a non-descript village in the Tiruvarur district in the Cauvery delta region and breathed his last in the Kauvery Hospital at the age of 94.
Leaders across the political spectrum attended the funeral. Among them was Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who stayed on after paying homage at the Rajaji Hall, AICC general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad, Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president S Thirunavakkarasar, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister M Chandra Babu Naidu, Trinamool Congress leader Derek Obrien whose leader Mamata Banerjee paid her last respects on Tuesday itself at his house, former Prime Minister Deve Gowda who became Prime Minister in the short-lived United Front Government thanks to Karunanidhi, State BJP leader and Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan and a host of others.
The burial site was hurriedly got ready by the Tamil Nadu Government after the High Court directed it to allow Karunanidhi to be buried in the Anna Memorial.
Everything went with clock-like precision. The funeral procession started from Rajaji Hall. A military gun carriage carrying the body of Karunaidhi kept in a glass casket at 4 in the evening and it took hours to reach the burial site two kilometers away as it has to inch forward with lakhs of party men accompanying it.
The funeral procession was as dignified as the one when late Chief Minister Jayalalitha was taken to the same memorial two years ago. After the gun carriage reached the burial site at sunset, the armed forces took charge and allowed Karunanidhi’s family members and the political leaders assembled to pay their last respect before lowering the coffin into the grave.
Karunanidhi’s second M K Stalin led the family in paying respects, followed by his elder brother M K Azhagiri and last son M K Tamilarasu.
Also present were Karunanidhi’s daughters Selvi and Kanimozhi, wife Rajathi and grand-nephews , Dayanidhi and Kalanidhi Maran. Karunanidhi being an atheist, the last rites were shorn of religious rituals.
Stalin, who was composed right through, turned emotional as the coffin was lowered into the earth.
As the body was lowered, muffled cry of “Long live Kalaignar” came from the distant as the cadres were not allowed into the burial ground. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his tribute, Karunanidhi will live in the hearts of Tamils the world over.