Amte's funeral on Sunday, Pawar, Shinde to attend

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Mumbai/New Delhi, Feb.9 : The mortal remains of noted social activist and Magsaysay award winner Murlidhar Devidas Amte, fondly known as Baba Amte, will be laid to rest on Sunday morning, family sources said today.

Amte, 94, breathed his last around 4:15 a.m. this morning at his "Anandvan Ashram" in Warora taluka of Chandrapur district in Maharashtra.

Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and host of other ministers and social activists, including Medha Patkar, will be attending the funeral.

Amte's daughter Sheetal was in Sri Lanka and is returning today, after which all the family members will decide upon whether he should cremated or buried, his son Dr.Vikas Amte said.

Baba had earlier expressed his desire that his body be buried instead of being cremated, he added.

One of the country's most respected social leaders, Amte devoted his life to the care and rehabilitation of leprosy patients.

He is survived by two sons and a daughter.

President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have expressed their condolences over his death, describing him as a "saint" and a "true Gandhian" who committed his life to the welfare of the destitute.

"Baba Amte is a great example of a person who committed his life for the welfare of the destitute and needy," the President, who is on a visit to Jalgaon, said in her condolence message.

The Prime Minister in his condolence message described Amte as a "legend", and said the Gandhi Peace Prize winner's work in the upliftment of leprosy patients puts him in a "unique class of great national figures".

"It is with a deep sense of grief and loss that I heard the demise of Baba Amte. A true Gandhian who worked hard to uphold Gandhian values in their true spirit, Baba Amte became a legend in his own lifetime," the Prime Minister said.

He said Amte's efforts to unite people on national and Gandhian values and to eliminate all forms of discrimination and bias makes him a "saint of our times".

ANI

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