Tura (Meghalaya), March 7 (IANS) Former Lok Sabha speaker P.A. Sangma was on Monday laid to rest here with full state honours in the presence of political leaders from across India.
Sangma, 68, died following a massive heart attack on Friday at his official residence in Delhi.
A 21-gun salute was accorded to the veteran politician and a Meghalaya Police band played the haunting ‘Abide with me’ tune.
After Sangma’s body was lowered into the grave, prayers were held before loose earth was poured to close it. The grave was then covered with flower petals.
Earlier, Sangma’s body, draped in the Tricolour, was brought to the Dikki-Bandi stadium from his Walbakgre residence on a flower-bedecked carriage, escorted by Meghalaya Police personnel.
Following the state funeral ceremonies, the mortal remains were taken to a church for the requiem mass before the body was finally laid to rest at the cathedral cemetery.
Various political leaders from across the country, including Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Manda Sangma, former Nagaland chief minister and Lok Sabha member Neiphiu Rio, former Manipur chief minister Radhabinod Koijam, former Meghalaya chief ministers D.D. Lapang and Dr Donkupar Roy and Nagaland assembly Speaker Chotisuh Sazo recalled Sangma’s contribution to Meghalaya and the nation.
People in large numbers lined up along the route to catch a last glimpse of Sangma, the first tribal speaker of the Lok Sabha and former chairman of International Labour Organisation, and bid him a tearful adieu.
People cutting across political, religious and other lines came out in large numbers to Tura to participate in his last journey. Many climbed atop an under-construction building and other structures to catch a glimpse of the illustrious son of the soil.
Dignitaries who spoke at the state funeral recalled Sangma’s contribution and paid glowing tributes, speaking of his conviction and commitment and the irreparable loss and vacuum that had been created by his sudden demise.
Condolence messages received from across the country, including from President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Kalikho Pul, Nagaland Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang and Congress president Sonia Gandhi were read out.
Speaking on behalf of the bereaved family, Sangma’s youngest daughter and former union minister Agatha K. Sangma expressed her gratitude for the public support during their moment of loss and said she was thankful to the Almighty “for giving us a father like P.A. Sangma”.