The mortal remains of former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj were consigned to flames on Wednesday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior leaders, besides family, friends and admirers bid a tearful adieu to the political stalwart.
A sea of mourners had gathered at the Lodhi Road crematorium in New Delhi where she was cremated with full state honours.
Swaraj, one of India's most high-profile woman politicians, who brought a rare empathy and a human approach to India's diplomacy, died at All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi late Tuesday night, plunging the nation in a state of grief.
The body of the former minister, wrapped in a tricolour, was brought to the crematorium in the afternoon from the BJP headquarters, where it was kept for few hours for people to pay their respects.
Hundreds of people, including the prime minister, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah, veteran party leader L K Advani, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Union ministers Rajnath Singh Harsh Vardhan and Ashwini Kumar Choubey, BJP working president J P Nadda, and New Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi bade her an emotional farewell.
Senior Congress leaders Anand Sharma, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot also attended the funeral.
Her mortal remains were consigned to flames in the electric crematorium, amid sounding of the ceremonial bugle and strains of vedic mantras in the background.
The prime minister was seen comforting her husband Swaraj Kaushal and daughter Bansuri.
People from multiple faiths converged at the crematorium, and many came from as far as Bihar and Madhya Pradesh to pay homage to Swaraj.
National president of Jamaat Ulama-e-Hind Molana Suhaib Qasmi, who came with a group of people from Nizamuddin area, said, "Her death is a big loss for the party, and the country."
"As a foreign minister, she had helped so many distressed diaspora people, whether it was in Saudi Arabia or Iraq or Yemen. I had once travelled with her to Yemen. She raised India's stature as the external affairs minister. We are shocked by her death," he said.
Choubey said, Swaraj's dearth was a ‘huge loss for the party and an irreparable loss for the country. Our prayers are with the family’.
Lekhi, who had also visited the family at the AIIMS on Tuesday night, besides a host of the other senior leaders, lauded Swaraj, saying, ‘she was an icon for every woman’.
"Any woman who wants to be in politics, ask her, and she would say 'I want to be like Sushma Swaraj'. She had exemplary oratory skills, was academically sound and was a leader of immense credibility who could take the opposition head on," she said.
Aam Aadmi Party MLA Somnath Bharti said, Swaraj was a 'rare politician' who was liked by people across parties.
"I used to invite her for the events, when I was the alumni association president at IIT... BJP has several good leaders but the leaders of the stature of Vajpayeeji (former PM) and Sushmaji, I don't think we see them any longer," he said.