The ashes of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee were on Sunday immersed in the Ganga at Har ki Pauri in Haridwar by his family members amidst chanting of Vedic hymns with thousands joining in as the urn was carried in a flower-bedecked truck.
Led by senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders including party chief Amit Shah and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the convoy with the urn moved from the Bhalla college ground to Har ki Pauri through a narrow 2-km stretch.
Other top leaders who were in attendance included Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his Uttarakhand counterpart Trivendra Singh Rawat.
Several Uttarakhand ministers were also present. The urn was carried by Vajpayee's foster son-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya accompanied by the former prime minister's adopted daughter Namita Kaul Bhattacharya.
A platform was especially erected at Brahmakund below the stairs leading to the river where the rituals were performed under the supervision of 'teerth purohit' Akhilesh Shastri.
As the ashes were immersed into the river, an emotional Namita leaned against the shoulder of her husband.
Earlier, people could be seen on balconies and rooftops to take a glimpse of the urn being carried in the truck. They showered flower petals on the vehicle. It was during his Vajpayee's prime ministership that Uttarakhand got statehood in the year 2000.
As the Prime Minister, Vajpayee also ensured the newly created hill state got a special status to facilitate its speedy industrialisation and growth.
"Atalji amar rahein", "Jab tak suraj chand rahega, Atalji ka naam rahega" and "Vande Matram" rent the air as the convoy passed through the lanes.
The rituals lasted around 20 minutes with a huge crowd waited at the ghats on either side of the river.
Elaborate security arrangements were made right from Jolly Grant Airport to Har ki Pauri in view of the VIP movement along the route with the deployment of over 1,000 police and PAC personnel to maintain vigil.
Earlier, family members and BJP brass arrived at the Bhalla College ground with the former prime minister's ashes and left for the Ganges.
There was reportedly some differences among party leaders over the place from where the 'kalash yatra' (procession of the urn containing ashes) should commence. It was decided that the procession would begin from the Bhalla college ground.
Meanwhile, Rajasthan BJP chief Madan Lal Saini said in Jaipur that the ashes of Vajpayee will be immersed at three places -- Beneshwar Dham in Dungarpur, Chambal river in Kota and Pushkar Sarovar in Ajmer -- in the state.
The ashes will be then taken for immersion in Beneshwar Dham in Dungarpur, Chambal river in Kota and Pushkar Sarovar in Ajmer, Saini said in a statement.
The ashes of the former PM will be immersed in the river Ganga in Patna on August 22, a senior BJP leader said.
"As part of the party's decision to immerse Atal ji's ashes in nearly 100 rivers across the country, Bihar BJP chief Nityanand Rai will arrive in Patna from New Delhi on August 21 with Atal ji's 'asthi kalash'," Bihar BJP vice president Devesh Kumar told PTI.
He said 'an all party prayer meet will be held at 3 pm at S K Memorial hall where people, workers from all political parties, social organisations and common men have been invited'.
The 'asthi kalash' will be kept at Beerchand Patel Path, the BJP's state unit headquarters, where common men and party men can have the glimpse of the 'kalash' and pay their respect, he said.
"Atal ji's ashes will be immersed in the river Ganga on August 22 in Patna," Kumar said.
The party has also decided to take out 'ashti kalash yatra' from August 22 onwards in order to immerse ashes into major rivers of Bihar, he said.