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Karunanidhi laid to rest at Marina Beach, next to mentor Annadurai

People pay their last respects to M. Karunanidhi in Chennai on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

Chennai: Thousands of people thronged Tamil Nadu’s capital city to pay homage to Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief M. Karunanidhi as the Dravadian leader was laid to rest next to his mentor C.N. Annadurai on the Marina Beach in Chennai on Wednesday.

The Marina reverberated with slogans of “Vazhga vazhga vaazhgavey, Kalaignar vazhgavey” (Long live, Kalaignar), the mortal remains of Karunanidhi was placed inside a sandalwood casket.

Karunanidhi, known as Kalaignar, had penned his own epitaph more than three decades ago, which was etched on his casket: “Oivu edukaamal uzhaithavan, idho oivu eduthu kondu irukira”’ (The one who worked without rest is resting here).

As family members and supporters paid a tearful tribute, Karunanidhi was buried amid gun salutes by army, navy and air force personnel. The 94-year-old leader’s son and working president of DMK M.K. Stalin received the national flag that was placed on Karunanidhi’s body.

Earlier in the day, the Madras high court ordered the Tamil Nadu government to allot burial land for the former Tamil Nadu chief minister near Anna Memorial at Marina Beach, Chennai.

The government, citing legal hurdles, had denied permission for Karunanidhi’s burial at Marina Beach. DMK advocates then approached Madras HC chief justice Huluvadi G. Ramesh with the matter and the case was heard at his residence in the presence of justice S.S. Sundar. The court said there was no impediment to Karnunanidhi’s burial.

The high court order was met with jubilation at Chennai’s Rajaji Hall, where Karunanidhi’s body was kept for the public to pay homage. Stalin, Karunanidhi’s daughter and Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi, and senior party leaders broke down after the verdict. DMK organizing secretary Durai Murugan said Kalaignar has won even in death. Thousands of DMK cadre and public, who had gathered at Rajaji Hall, raised slogans in praise of the late party leader.

Earlier on Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid homage to the late leader, along with Tamil Nadu governor Banwarilal Purohit and defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Both Houses of Parliament condoled the demise and were adjourned for the day. Congress president Rahul Gandhi was among those present at the funeral of the Dravidian leader. Chief ministers of various states and other political leaders also paid their respects to Karunanidhi.

On Wednesday afternoon, there was a stampede at Rajaji Hall leading to the death of two people and injuries to many. Following the tragedy, Stalin made a fervent appeal to the crowd not to create any disturbance. “I touch your feet and plead,” he said.

He also said that the government had planned to refuse land at the Marina, but the battle had been won. “Today, we approached the court to obtain permission for burying the remains of Thalaivar (leader) who has always fought for reservation,” said Stalin.

The five-time chief minister of Tamil Nadu passed away on Tuesday at 6.10pm in Kauvery Hospital, Chennai, where he was being treated for the past 11 days.

On Tuesday night, M.K. Stalin penned an emotional letter saying “For once, can I call you Appa (dad), Thalaivare (leader)?” “At least once please utter the lines ‘En uyirinum melana anbu udanpirapukale’ (my dear brethren, precious than my life). That would help us function for a century with a passion for our language and identity.”

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