DMK patriarch and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi was laid to rest beside his mentor CN Annadurai on Marina beach on Wednesday evening as lakhs of people turned up to bid adieu to ‘Kalaignar’, with a galaxy of political leaders like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and chief ministers of Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in attendance. Karunanidhi’s body was draped in the tri-colour with his trademark black glasses, a yellow shawl, white shirt, and dhoti.
Karunanidhi, who passed away on Tuesday following an 11-day battle with deteriorating health, was buried with full military honours as soldiers gave him a 21-gun salute and buglers sounded the last post. In keeping with his rationalist beliefs, Karunanidhi’s body, kept in a sandalwood casket, was lowered into the earth without any rituals. As per his wish, an epitaph — “The person who had worked without rest is resting here” — was sculpted on the casket.
Karunanidhi’s son and DMK working president MK Stalin was seen crying inconsolably after touching his father’s feet before the casket was lowered into the grave. Stalin had wept in the morning too after the Madras High Court, headed by acting Chief Justice H Ramesh, permitted Karunanidhi’s burial on the Marina Beach. The DMK approached the Madras HC after the state government rejected its demand for Karunanidhi’s burial at Marina Beach, where Dravidian stalwarts like C N Annadurai, M G Ramachandran, and J Jayalalithaa were laid to rest.
However, hours before Karunanidhi’s body was brought to the Marina, a stampede-like situation ensued near Rajaji Hall, where lakhs gathered to have a last glimpse of the leader. Police used force to bring the situation under control but two people, including a 60-year-old-woman, lost their lives in the stampede. At least 35 people were injured.
Apart from a host of politicians, personalities from the entertainment world, including superstars Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, paid their respects to the five-time chief minister. Modi, who flew from Delhi in the morning, laid a wreath on the body at Rajaji Hall and spoke to Stalin and Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi.
Heart-rendering slogans like ‘Kalaignar pugazh vazhga vazhgavey’ (long live the glory of Karunanidhi) rent the air as tri-service personnel lifted the glass casket containing the mortal remains and walked up to the decked up military hearse. There was a complete shutdown in the city and across the state. The government declared a public holiday as a mark of respect to Karunanidhi.