Former Central Bureau of Investigation director Ashwani Kumar was cremated in the presence of his family, friends and senior Himachal Pradesh officials and politicians on Thursday, a day after he was found hanging at his home.
The 69-year-old, who also served as Nagaland governor and led the investigation into the Aarushi Talwar murder case, left behind a note saying he was "embarking on a new journey", officials said.
The pyre was lit by his son Abhishek. Senior Himachal Pradesh politicians, including Power Minister Sukh Ram Chaudhary and Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri, and Director General of Police Sanjay Kundu were among those present on the occasion.
In Delhi, the CBI held a condolence meeting for Kumar, who loved Tom and Jerry and, in fact, likened his work to the cat and mouse games that made the cartoon show a hit for generations of children and adults too.
The 1973-batch IPS officer is survived by his wife and son.
On Thursday, after the mandatory medical examination of the body, authorities at a city hospital preserved a viscera sample for a final medical report and then handed his mortal remains to the family for the last rites, officials said.
A preliminary probe indicates that a sudden change in his active life over the last six months --India went into lockdown in March to curb the spread of COVID-19 -- could be a probable reason behind the drastic move but police are looking into all probabilities, they said.
"We recovered a suicide note in which he had written he is embarking on a new journey. His family members were present when he went inside the room, locked it and committed suicide by hanging himself with a nylon rope. The family does not suspect any foul play. We have seized the items in the room," DGP Kundu said on Wednesday night.
A few hours earlier, on Wednesday evening, Kumar was found hanging at his residence in Brockhurst near Chhota Shimla.
The DGP was personally monitoring the case along with Shimla Superintendent of Police Mohit Chawla and other senior police officials, including the forensic team.
Former colleagues and present officers of the agency remembered Kumar as a soft-spoken gentleman with a ready smile.
A resident of Nahan in the state, Kumar became director of the Central Bureau of Investigation in 2008, succeeding Vijay Shanker. Kumar was a surprise announcement for the post. Two other names, both senior to him, were doing the rounds for the top job. This was also the time when the agency was grappling with controversies surrounding the Aarushi murder case.
"I like Tom and Jerry. Police is like the cat while the criminals are mice. So Tom never leaves Jerry," Kumar had said in an interview in 2008 after taking over as CBI director.
"I am in the game of Tom and Jerry and I have to do my job," he said.
Kumar had expressed his displeasure over the probe into the twin murders of Noida schoolgirl Aarushi Talwar, the daughter of dentist couple Rajesh and Nupur Talwar, and the family's domestic help Hemraj.
The sensational twin murders had the nation agog and Kumar had taken it upon himself to take the investigation to a logical conclusion.
"This case is a litmus test for me. I need to know who killed Aarushi -- parents or someone else. I feel agitated over this case," he had said.
A closure report was prepared during his tenure as CBI chief. This later formed the basis of the arrests and conviction of Aarushi's parents. Both the parents are now out on bail and the case is being heard in higher courts.
A resident of Nahan in Himachal Pradesh, Kumar became director of the Central Bureau of Investigation in 2008, succeeding Vijay Shanker in the midst of the agency's probe into the Aarushi Talwar murder case, which was hogging media headlines.
He had also served in the Special Protection Group elite force, which primarily guards the prime minister, and was appointed as the governor of Nagaland in 2013 by the UPA government.
A former DGP of Himachal Pradesh, Kumar was presently vice chancellor of a private university in Shimla, officials said.