Vajpayee cremated, daughter Namita performs last rites

Atal Bihari Vajpayee The First Indian Leader to Address UNGA in Hindi

A few thousand people, some of whom chanted slogans hailing the late leader, thronged the Smriti Sthal as the last rites took place. The country is observing a seven-day state mourning as a mark of respect for the leader.

Vajpayee, both a poet and a politician, died Thursday at age 93 in a New Delhi hospital. Foreign dignitaries such as Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Afghan politician Hamid Karzai and Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali also paid last respects to the leader.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) on Friday condoled Vajpayee's death, describing him as a strong advocate of cooperation within the South Asian region.

People pay tribute to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Lucknow.

"Besides, as the three-time prime minister of India, Vajpayee's leadership greatly contributed to the prosperity and stability of India, and the country attained steady economic growth and became a leader in information technology", Sial said.

Describing former prime minister's death as a "huge personal loss", Singh said he was pained beyond words at the demise of Vajpayee, who had cherished the ideal of a developed and powerful India.

Human Activist and president Citizen for Peace Wasim Ahmed Ghazi said in spite of his association of BJP and RSS Vajpayee sometimes put forth his point against RSS BJP ideology and above politics.

"As foreign minister, Vajpayee strived to open up ways towards normalisation of relations among neighboring states and had successfully taken this agenda to new heights after assuming the office of prime minister", he said.

"The government and people of Pakistan extend their heartfelt condolences to his family and to the government and people of India", it added.

Vajpayee served as prime minister briefly in 1996 then again from 1998 to 2004. Meanwhile, the British High Commission in Delhi flew its national flag, the Union Jack, at half mast in honour of Vajpayee.

President All India Muslim Conference and former minister of Bihar Shumail Nabi said Vajpayee was an iron man.

But in India he was hailed as a hero, and it helped him bolster his image as a leader who was serious about national security and not afraid of worldwide pressure.

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