State funeral for Chandra Shekhar, cabinet condoles death


New Delhi : The union cabinet Sunday condoled the death of former prime minister Chandra Shekhar who would be cremated with full state honours near Rajghat Monday.

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An emergency cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described Chandra Shekhar as "an eminent parliamentarian, social worker and able administrator who has left his imprint on every aspect of national life".

Chandra Shekhar, 80, died Sunday morning at the Apollo Hospital after a prolonged battle with cancer.

Expressing profound sorrow at his demise, the cabinet resolution said Chandra Shekhar was a truly secular nationalist and a man of the people committed to their welfare and well-being.

"He was known for his conviction, courage and integrity. Throughout his life, he devoted himself to espouse the cause of the downtrodden, and worked relentlessly for rapid social change," the resolution noted.

It said Chandra Shekhar was in many ways a grassroots worker deeply interested in primary education and health services. A reflective writer, he was also the founder-editor and chairman of the editorial advisory board of Young Indian.

The cabinet decided that the cremation will take place near Rajghat, Mahatma Gandhi's memorial, next to those of former presidents Zail Singh, Shankar Dayal Sharma and K.R. Narayanan on the banks of the river Yamuna.

All former prime ministers and presidents except P.V. Narasimha Rao were cremated there.

After the cabinet meet, Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi said there will be a week-long state mourning for the departed leader and said the funeral will take place at 4 p.m. Monday.

Dasmunsi said all flags would fly at half mast during the period of mourning and government offices would remain closed after 1 p.m. Monday to enable employees to pay their tributes to the departed prime minister.

A banquet in honour of visiting Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen Monday night has been cancelled.