In a gathering of what most residents believed were the biggest crowds ever seen in their localities, the bodies of slain CPRF personnel Shyam Babu and Ajit Kumar Azad were laid to rest in village Raingava of Kanpur Dehat district and the banks of river Ganga in Unnao district, respectively, with full state honours amid chanting of slogans and the presence of ministers and senior leaders.
In Unnao, roads were packed as hundreds of Tricolour flags fluttered on the 15-km stretch between Ajit Kumar Azad’s house in Lok Nagar area and the Baalu Ghat cremation ground, amid slogans like “Vande Mataram” and “Ajit bhaiyya amar rahein”, and demands of retribution.
The procession of thousands left the house around 9.30 am after a guard of honour, and was joined by hundreds at each turn — some on motorcycles and the other afoot. Women and children accompanied with teary eyes.
Azad’s father Pyare Lal stood close while his brother Sujeet Kumar performed the last rites.
Among those present were Union Minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, UP Minister Brajesh Pathak, UP Assembly Speaker Hriday Narayan Dikshit, BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj, BJP MLA Pankaj Gupta, Samajwadi Party MLC Sunil Singh Sajan and Rajya Sabha MP from BJP Ashok Bajpai.
“We had not expected this crowd,” said District Magistrate Devendra Kumar Pandey, adding that more than 2 lakh people participated in the procession.
At Raingava, People from neighbouring villages began gathering at Babu’s village around 11.30 am. As the body was taken away from Babu’s two-room kutcha house, his son Ayush (4) held his grandfather Ram Prasad’s hand. Amid slogans, the funeral procession moved to a spot 500 metres from the house.
BJP leaders, including Union Minister Smriti Irani, state minister Mukut Bihari Verma, MP Devendra Singh and Sikandara MLA Ajit Singh Pal were present, besides SP district president Ram Singh.
“Body mein kuch nahi bacha. Jo dekhega woh khud dar jayega,” said Shailendra Katiyar, who works at a private company and knew Shyam Babu since they were children.
Surrounded by CRPF personnel and policemen, the pyre was set on fire by Shyam’s brother Kamlesh (25), a daily wage labourer at a private factory near the village. The angry slogans subsided as flames engulfed the body. As people began walking home an hour later, Kamlesh said, “Desh ke liye toh ye kurbani hai.”