Socialist icon George Fernandes cremated

Socialist icon George Fernandes cremated

 Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar pays tribute to former defence minister and veteran socialist George Fernandes in New Delhi. PTI photo

The mortal remains of socialist icon George Fernandes on Thursday were cremated here in the presence of his family, friends and admirers.

His ashes will now be buried in the Christian cemetery on Prithviraj Road here on Friday morning. Fernandes (88), who was suffering from Alzheimer's disease for years, breathed his last on Tuesday at 6 AM.

The body of Fernandes was brought from his home in Panchsheel Park in a wooden casket on a military truck amid chants of 'George Saab Amar Rahe' (Long live, George Sir) and 'Jab tak suraj chand rahega, Goerge tera naam rahega' (Your name will be as immortal as the sun and the moon).

Wife Leila Kabir, son Sean and Fernandes' brothers were at the crematorium. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, top BJP leader L K Advani, Union ministers Ram Vilas Paswan, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Harsh Vardhan, senior leaders Sharad Yadav and Upendra Kushwaha were among those who attended the cremation at the Lodhi electric crematorium.

Fernandes' close associate Jaya Jaitly and former cricketer Ajay Jadeja also were present during the cremation.

Earlier on Thursday morning, a prayer service was held at Fernandes' residence. The Bihar Chief Minister, who was Fernandes' protege, had visited the home in the morning also. Former Defence Minister A K Antony also visited the home to pay respects to Fernandes.

Sean said, "everyone's trying to claim a part of his legacy and that makes me feel proud. He may have physically left us, but his values and ideals live on in others. And he was a very good man, who worked for the downtrodden." The son arrived on Wednesday night from New York where he is settled.

Rajya Sabha made an obituary reference on Fernandes. Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said Fernandes actively participated in several human rights and civil liberties movements and was associated with a number of global campaigns on nuclear disarmament and environmental issues.

Referring to his stint as Defence Minister, Naidu said he also paid a record number of 32 visits to the world's highest battlefield at Siachen Glacier, to boost the morale of our Defence personnel working in arduous conditions.

At the all-party meeting here, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also referred to the death of Fernandes and paid rich tributes to the departed leader.