No holiday, but Govt staff can attend funeral
TURA/SHILLONG: An ashen sky, and a horde of mourners on a quiet Tura afternoon. Both nature and man bore witness to the decorated hearse carrying the mortal remains of the political patriarch of Garo Hills, Purno Agitok Sangma, as it made its way through the ten km route to his residence at Walbakgre on Saturday.
A special air force chopper carrying the body of one of North East’s most well known politician touched down at Dobasipara shortly after 12:45pm.
From the uniformed bureaucrat to the common man, all stood with bated breath to have a last glimpse of the legendary leader whose casket was placed on a decorated truck by Meghalaya police personnel in full uniform.
As the cavalcade of several hundred vehicles accompanying the casket of Sangma snaked through the main thoroughfare of Tura, mourners stood in silence as a mark of respect while women cast wreaths and forlorn flowers towards the casket, desolate in their despair.
Thousands turned out onto the streets and traders downed their shutters as a mark of respect for the leader who became a household name throughout the country and put Garo Hills into the national limelight.
Accompanying the casket along with the family of Sangma was Meghalaya Governor V. Shanmuganathan, Union Minister for DONER and the Prime Minister’s Office Dr Jitender Singh and Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju.
Secretary of the North East Council, Ram Muivah also arrived at the helipad to receive the body of the Tura MP.
By the time the 10 km journey from the BSF helipad at Dobasipara to Walbakgre residence of Sangma had ended a sea of humanity descended on the sprawling campus of the former Lok Sabha speaker.
The Kongkal and Agitok Maharis, representing the clans of P A Sangma and his wife Soradini K Sangma, were there to receive the grieving family.
The casket carrying Mr Sangma’s body was placed at a special hall in the compound as well wishers and political supporters gathered to pay their condolences.
A condolence and special prayer meeting was organized during which P A Sangma’s favourite hymn ‘Abide With Me’ was sung by those gathered.
FUNERAL DAY: Though there will not be any holiday on March 7 due to the ongoing board examinations, the government staff in Garo Hills can attend the funeral of late PA Sangma on Monday at Tura after informing the heads of the departments.
The Commissioner of Divisions for Garo Hills PW Ingty said on Saturday that the state funeral has been notified and though Monday has not been declared as a holiday, the government staff in Garo Hills can attend the funeral.
He also said that it was left to the schools to decide whether the students should attend the funeral or not.
RICH TRIBUTES PAID: Meghalaya Governor V Shanmuganathan paid rich tributes to late P A Sangma terming him as a profound statesman concerned about the well being of the next generation. He emphasized on development as an essential pre-requisite for lasting peace in the region, said Governor Shanmuganathan.
“When I last met him two weeks ago he told me of his dream to see every youth in Garo Hills employed. His concern was for the youth of Garo Hills and he always said and wanted prosperity for his people,” said the Governor.
Recalling Late Sangma’s close friendship with then prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Governor Shanmuganathan said that the veteran Garo Hills leader was well loved by Vajpayee who termed him as a broad minded person.
“Witnessing the huge turnout of people today all along the route to his home shows that he still lives in the hearts of his people. It is with great humility that I express my condolence to the family of Sangma,” said Governor Shanmuganathan.
Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju termed the death of Sangma as a great loss. “He was a philosophical and political guide. Today there is a vacuum,” said Rijiju adding that the former Lok Sabha speaker was the first political face of north east India who despite his demise would continue to inspire many by his great deeds.
Union minister for DONER and the PM’s office, Dr Jitender Singh said he was moved by the sea of humanity waiting to receive the mortal remains of their leader at Tura.
“Seeing crowds of people waiting to have a glimpse of P A Sangma all through the route from the helipad to his house speaks volumes of this great leader’s contribution to the north east,” said Dr. Singh.Narrating the last few days of Sangma’s interaction with him, Dr Singh said that there was a regular contact between them because he had wanted more development for the region through the DONER ministry.”At one point of time he said he would meet Prime Minister Modi to request him to place DONER under a cabinet minister so that more funds could flow to the region for development. The best tribute would be if we all try and emulate P A Sangma,” said Dr Jitender Singh.
The North Eastern Council (NEC) secretary Ram Muivah also paid floral tributes to Sangma and placed a traditional Naga shawl on the casket of the Tura MP.