Thousands attend Nepal ex-PM Koirala’s cremation

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Kathmandu, Feb 10 (IANS) Nepal paid a fond farewell — albeit tearful — to a gritty soldier of democracy as the last rites of former prime minister Sushil Koirala were performed at the Pashupati Arya Ghat here on Wednesday.

Thousands of Nepali Congress members, political leaders and admirers of the man known for his integrity and simple lifestyle thronged Kathmandu’s prominent cremation ground on the bank of the Baghmati river beside the famed Pashupatinath temple.

Koirala was cremated with full state honours and provided a ceremonial Guard of Honour by a Nepal Army troop. A national holiday was declared on Wednesday.

His nephews Atul and Sudanshu performed the last rites of the septuagenarian Nepali Congress leader who died in a hospital here on Tuesday due to pneumonia.

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Koirala, 76, was a bachelor and lived with his nephews and close relatives.

Earlier in the day, his body was taken in a procession from Dashrath Stadium where his body was kept for dignitaries and commoners to pay their last respects.

Koirala had undergone radiotherapy for lung cancer in 2014 and surgery for tongue cancer 10 years ago in the US.

Koirala, who became the 37th prime minister in 2014 after the second Constituent Assembly (CA) elections, stewarded the Himalayan nation’s new constitution that formally declared the former Hindu kingdom as a federal republic.

An all-party delegation from India, led by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and including National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Congress leader and former union minister Anand Sharma, CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury and Janata Dal-United chief Sharad Yadav, was in Kathmandu for Koirala’s funeral.

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