Sam Bahadur laid to rest with full State honours

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Wellington, Tamil Nadu, Jun 27 (UNI) The mortal remains of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, the hero of the 1971 Indo-Pak war, who died in the wee hours today, were laid to rest this evening, with full State Honours.

The nonagenarian Ex-Army Chief, who was undergoing treatment at the Military Hospital here, passed away at 0030 hrs this morning, after he developed Acute Bronchopneumonia with associated complications.

Immediately after his death, the body was taken to his residence in Coonoor for religious rites. It was later shifted to the Military Memorial Hall where the public and Defence personnel paid their homage.

After his grandson Rahul Sam placed a wreath on the body, Union Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju, Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen M L Naidu, Bhutan representative Major Kinley Dorji, Air Vice Marshal Jolly, Rear Admiral Gaekwad, Tamil Nadu Khadi Board Minister K Ramachandran paid their last respects to the departed soul.

After the military gave the 17-gun salutes, two minutes of silence was observed as a mark of respect, before the cortege carrying the body of the 94-year-old Field Marshall in an open hearse, was taken to Udhagamandalam for the last rites.

A pall of gloom descended on the hill station as people lined up on both sides of the 20-km long stretch and bade a tearful farewell to ''Sam Bahadur'', as he was affectonately called.

As the procession reached the Parsi Zoroastrian cemetry in Udhagamandalam, his family members performed the last rites as per the Parsi custom. The body was laid to rest in a private ceremony.

President Prathiba Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led the nation in paying homage to the war hero, while the Tamil Nadu government, condoling the death, observed a day's mourning, cancelled official functions and declared a holiday for all educational institutions in the Nilgiri district, where he had settled after serving the nation with great pride.

(Ed: Pick up suitably from related series).

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