Pranab Mukherjee cremated with military honours amid Covid safeguards


Former President Pranab Mukherjee, who passed away at Army’s R&R Hospital in New Delhi on Monday at the age of 84, was cremated with full military honours on Tuesday afternoon at the Lodhi Road crematorium following a strict Covid-19 precautionary protocol.

His son Abhijit Mukherjee performed the final rites accompanied by a 21-gun military salute. Only close family members were allowed to enter the crematorium unlike previous cremation ceremonies of such dignitaries, and those handling the mortal remains of Mukherjee wore PPE kits.

Following Covid-19 precautionary protocol, President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi led a galaxy of top political leaders who paid floral tributes to the departed soul at his 10, Rajaji Marg residence.

The mortal remains of the 13th President were brought to his residence from the Army Research and Referral Hospital, around 9.30 am. In keeping with the military tradition, the three service chiefs placed wreaths on Mukherjee’s body before politicians cutting across party lines paid their floral tributes.

The tricolour that was wrapped around Mukherjee’s body was removed and given to his family for the last rites.

Meanwhile, his son Abhijit Mukherjee said that coronavirus was not the main factor for Pranab Mukherjee’s demise, rather it was the brain operation. “His presence was support for our family, we’ll miss him. I feel COVID was not the main factor for his death rather it was the brain operation. I had plans to take him to West Bengal but due to current restrictions we couldn’t do so,” said Abhijit while speaking to the reporters. “He did not meet any outsider for last four months as we were taking all Covid-19 precautions. A lot of people wanted to come but they couldn’t due to Covid-19,” he added.

The government has announced a seven-day State mourning from 31 August to 6 September as a mark of respect to the leader. The tricolour is flying half-mast on all buildings throughout the country. There will be no official entertainment during these seven days.

Mukherjee, in his long political career, had served as the Union Foreign, Defence, Commerce and Finance Minister.