Cries of “Amma” rent the air as a sea of humanity thronged the Rajaji Hall grounds on Tuesday to pay their last respects to AIADMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, whose body lay in state in Chennai where normal life virtually came to a grinding halt. As tributes poured in from far and wide after the actress-turned-politicians’s death last night, the body of Jayalalithaa, which was draped in her favourite green colour saree, was taken from her Poes Garden residence early this morning to Rajaji Hall where tens of thousands of people queued up to have a last glimpse of their ‘Puratchi Thalaivi Amma’ (Revolutionary Leader Amma).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among scores of political leaders who were headed to Chennai to pay tributes to the 68-year-old AIADMK chief.
As the casket carrying the body of six-time chief minister was placed on the steps of Rajaji Hall, in the heart of the city off arterial Anna Salai, four Army men covered it with the national Tricolour.
Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and his ministerial colleagues, MPs and MLAs and senior state government officials were among the first to pay homage to Jayalalithaa, who passed away at the Apollo Hospitals here at 11.30 last night after waging a grim battle for life since her hospitalisation on September 22.
Jayalithaa’s long time confidante Sasikala Natarajan stood close to the casket.
Security has been beefed up at the venue where people lined up to bid a tearful adieu to their ‘Amma’ (mother) as Jayalithaa was fondly called.
Cries of “Amma” rent the air as the public filed past taking a last glimpse of their beloved leader from a distance away from the stairs, where the Tamil Nadu Ministers were seen seated.
Jayalalithaa’s body was first taken to her Poes Garden residence in the early hours and then brought to the Rajaji Hall.
The funeral will take place at 4.30 pm at the Dr MGR Memorial site off Marina beach, the state government said in an official communication.
All roads leading to Rajaji Hall grounds were bustling with crowds of people who did not mind taking a long walk with public transport, barring trains, remaining off the roads.
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After Jayalalithaa’s body was brought to the Rajaji Hall, the crowd could be seen swelling by the minute and the heavy posse of police personnel deployed there were finding it very difficult to control them. Emotional scenes were witnessed as several women were seen wailing and thumping their chests.
The Centre declared a one-day state mourning today in view of the demise of ayalalithaa.
National flag on all government buildings across the country was flown at half-mast.
Public transport services, including autorickshaws, 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 several other parts of the state since last evening itself.