President, Vice-President, PM condole Baba Amte's death

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New Delhi, Feb 9 (UNI) President Pratibha Patil, Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today paid eloquent tributes to legendary social worker and Ramon Magsaysay Award winner Baba Amte, describing him as a ''saint of our times'' and an eminent Indian who upheld the Gandhian philosophy by ''wiping away tears from the eys of the poor and the downtrodden''.

In her condolence message to his wife, Sadhna Amte, Mrs Patil said, ''Despite hailing from a well-to-do family, Baba Amte dedicated his life to espouse the Gandhian ideals'' and worked ceaselessly to wipe away tears from the eyes of the poor people.

She said the noted social activist devoted his life to the cause of leprosy sufferers and fought against social injsutice.

''Baba Amte was a unique example of a person who committed his whole life for the welfare of the destitute and the needy,'' the President said.

In his message, Mr Ansari described Baba Amte as an ''eminent public personality'' who worked tirelessly for the people, especially the poor and the downtrodden.

''Baba Amte served the people, especially the poor and the downtrodden, and earned their love and adulation. In his passing away, we have lost a great Indian,'' he said.

Describing Baba Amte as a ''true Gandhian'' and a ''saint of our times'', Dr Singh said he worked hard to uphold Mahatma Gandhi's values in true spirit.

In his condolence message, the Prime Minister said, ''It is with a deep sense of grief and loss that I heard about 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 lifetime. The work he did for the uplift of leprosy-affected people at Anandvan alone puts him in a unique class of great national figures who lived for the betterment of their fellow human beings.'' Dr Singh said his life-long struggle to unite people across the length and breadth of the country on national and Gandhian lines and to eliminate all forms of discrimination and bias truly made him a saint of our times.

''The footprints of Baba Amte will be permanently embedded in the sands of time and will be a guiding beacon for all those working for the common good,'' he added.

Stating that his heart goes out to all those associated with Baba Amte and his millions of admirers across the nation, the Prime Minister said, ''I pay homage to a truly great son of India and pray that his departed soul rests in peace.'' Baba Amte passed away at his residence at Warora in Chandrapur district in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra early this morning.

He was 94.

Baba Amte had been ailing for some time and had recently been diagnosed with blood cancer.

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