A sea of people today joined the funeral procession of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi walking behind the gun carriage carrying the mortal remains. BJP chief Amit Shah, several union ministers and chief ministers of several states including Vijay Rupani, Shivraj Chouhan, Yogi Adityanath and Devendra Fadnavis were among those who walked sombrely behind the carriage as it slowly made its way to the Rashtriya Smirti Sthal where the last rites would be performed.
Vajpayee, 93, passed away at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here last evening after a prolonged illness. Amid sultry weather conditions, thousands of people walked along the over seven km-long route with some showering petals at the carriage. Heavy security was deployed along the route of the procession.
The crowd was so massive that the people spilled over barricades and jostled to get a glimpse of the former prime minister. During the procession, people chanted slogans like "Atal Bihari Amar Rahe" as Vajpayee's cortege made its way from the BJP headquarters to the cremation ground.
The decorated gun carriage carrying his mortal remains left the BJP headquarters on Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg around 2 pm. Last night, Vajpayee's body was taken to his official residence on Krishna Menon Marg from AIIMS where he was admitted on June. In the morning, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Army Chief Bipin Rawat, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat paid homage to the former prime minister at his official residence.
Police have made elaborate security arrangements for the funeral procession, officials said. Some roads closed include Krishna Menon Marg, Sunehri Bagh Road, Tughlak Road, Akbar Road, Tees January Marg, Man Singh Road, Bhagwan Dass Road, Shahjahan Road and Sikandara Road. DDU Marg, IP Marg, BSZ Marg (from Tilak Bridge to Delhi Gate), JLN Marg (from Rajghat to Delhi Gate) will also be closed, the traffic police said. Commuters have been advised to use Aurobindo Marg, Safdarjung Road, Mother Teresa Crescent, Park Street, Mandir Marg to travel between north and south Delhi. Those travelling between east and west Delhi can use Vikas Marg, Shahdara Bridge and Wazirabad Bridge to reach Ring Road.