Rare and unknown facts about Indira Gandhi's funeral
Cuba's top leader Fidel Castro who shared a cordial relationship with former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi did not attend her funeral. While, then US President Ronald Reagan also skipped her funeral. The United States only sent a small delegation led by then vice-president George Bush to attend the last rites, performed on November 3.
The absence of Castro at Indira's funeral raised eyebrows as both the leaders not only shared good equations but were among the top leaders of Non-Alignment Movement (NAM). Both leaders shared such a strong bond that Castro embraced and hugged Indira during the inaguration of 1983 NAM Summit, which was held in Science Centre in national capital. This historic picture became the headline of all most all newspapers next day.
To put his side, Castro said that he had to attend an important event at Hawana that's why he was not able to attend Gandhi's funeral.
Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was among the top leaders of NAM countries, that's why the President, Vice-President and Prime Ministers of nearly 127 nations attended Gandhi's last rites. Then Cabinet Minister Buta Singh has taken responsibilty of preparing the funeral site which is known as Shakti Sthal.
Arafat cried at the funeral of Indira Gandhi
During an interview, Dr Goswami Girdhari who performed the rituals on November 3 at Shakti Sthal said that Palestian leader Yaseer Arafat cried bitterly at her funeral. He said Arafat shared a healthy relationship with Gandhi as she takes his side on the Palesitine issue. Arafat cried at the site, saying, "my sister is no more".
Sri Lankan President J R Jayawardhan also attended her last rite. He came at Shanti Sthal inspite the fact that Gandhi criticised him a number of times and even called him 'puppet'. Not only this, Pakistani President General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq also attended the funeral. His presence at the funeral site came as a surpise to many attendees. He never shared good relation with the former Indian Prime Minsiter , in fact, Gandhi suspected that he had hand behind the Khalistan movement.
Britain's first female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher also visited India to attend Gandhi's last rites. She first met the Gandhi family at Teen Murti Bhawan and gave her condolence to the grief-ridden Gandhi family.
Amitabh Bachchan was also present at funeral site
The Nobel Prize winner of 1979 also attended the funeral despite her illness. Along with her, Jubin Mehta was also present at the funeral site. Among other attendees, Bollywood star Raj Kapoor, Sunil Dutt and Amitabh Bachchan attended the last rite. Indira Gandhi considered Amitabh as his son and their family shared a cordial relationship with the Gandhi family. Indira's aunty Vijaylakshmi Pandit was also present at the funeral site, this despite the strained relationship between the two ladies. Vijaylakshmi was not in good books of Indira as she, at several interval of time, had criticised Gandhi's was of functioning and also her move to impose emergency in the country.
Top bureaucrat BK Nehru who was Indira's cousin was also present at the funeral site.