India’s former prime minister and one of the country’s most-loved and respected leaders, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, died on Thursday evening, uniting an otherwise deeply divided political class in grief. (Photo Courtesy: Agencies)
NEW DELHI, Aug 17: The last rites of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will take place at 4 pm on Friday at Rashtriya Smriti Sthal in New Delhi. Police expect lakhs of mourners to reach central Delhi to pay homage to the leader who died at 93 in New Delhi on Thursday.
The body of the BJP veteran was kept overnight at his official residence -- 6 A Krishna Menon Marg and was taken to the BJP headquarters at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg at 9.30 am.
The funeral procession is expected to start from the BJP headquarters at 1pm and the last rites would be performed at 4pm, party president Amit Shah said.
Over 5,000 policemen and paramilitary personnel will form a multi-layer security cordon for a smooth passage of the funeral procession to the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal, the Delhi Police said.
Police personnel from each of Delhi’s 180 police stations have been drafted for security arrangements. Around two dozen of the anti-terror Parakram vans with commandoes will also be on duty.
Sniffer dogs, bomb detection and disposal squads, in coordination with the officials from the Special Protection Group (SPG) began sanitising the funeral route and the venue began Thursday evening, senior police officials said while ruling out inconvenience to the public.
“We will ensure maximum security with minimum inconvenience to the public,” said Madhur Verma, Delhi Police spokesperson.
The former PM’s mortal remains would be taken to the BJP headquarters at Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg around noon. Delhi BJP leaders have said around 50,000-60,000 party members would be present at the party headquarters.
The body would then be taken to Rashtriya Smriti Sthal under heavy security around 4pm for the final rites.
The Union Cabinet had in May 2013 cleared a proposal to set up Rashtriya Smriti Sthal along the Yamuna river in central Delhi for performing last rites of departed national leaders and for setting up their memorials.
Areas around Krishna Menon Marg, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg and Rajghat would be closed in phases for traffic movement on Friday as the police expect lakhs of mourners to reach central Delhi to pay homage to former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Vajpayee’s body will be taken from his residence to the BJP headquarters on Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg around 1pm.
The traffic police said from 8am on Friday traffic movement would be restricted at Krishna Menon Marg, Sunehri Bagh Road, Tughlaq Road, Akbar Road, Tees January Marg, Janpath (from Hotel Claridges to Windsor Place), Mansingh Road, C-Hexagon from Shahjahan Road to Tilak Marg, Rajpath (from Mansingh Road to C-Hexagon), Ashoka Road (from Windsor Place to C-Hexagon), Kasturba Gandhi Marg (from Feroz Shah Road to C-Hexagon), and Copernicus Marg (from Mandi House to C-Hexagon).
Other areas where traffic will be affected because of the funeral procession are Shahjahan Road, Zakir Hussain Marg, Tilak Marg (from C-Hexagon to Tilak Bridge), Bhagwan Dass Road, Sikandra Road and Mathura Road.
An advisory issued by traffic police suggested alternative routes such as Minto Road-Bhavbhuti Marg-Ajmeri Gate-Shradhanand Marg-Lahori Gate Chowk-Naya Bazar-Peeli Kothi-SP Mukherjee Marg to commute between north Delhi and Connaught Place.
“Traffic would not be permitted on the lower Ring Road from ISBT Kashmere Gate towards Shantivan and from IP Flyover towards Rajghat from 8 am,” the traffic advisory read.