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Rediff.com  » News » PHOTOS: Hundreds pay homage to martyr Major Mukund Varadarajan

PHOTOS: Hundreds pay homage to martyr Major Mukund Varadarajan

Last updated on: April 30, 2014 11:17 IST

Image: The coffin being carried inside the crematorium accompanied by the major's father father R Vardarajan (in white)
Photographs: Sriram Selvaraj S Saraswathi in Chennai

Hundreds gathered outside the Besant Nagar crematorium in Chennai on Monday morning to pay their last respects to Major Mukund Varadarajan, who was killed along with sepoy Vikram Singh in an overnight encounter with terrorists in the Shopian district of South Kashmir on Friday. 

Varadarajan's body arrived in Chennai by an Air India flight from Delhi at around 11.45 pm on Sunday night, after the wreath laying ceremonies were held at Srinagar on Sunday morning. 

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PHOTOS: Hundreds pay homage to Major Mukund Varadarajan

Image: Hundreds lined up to pay their last respects at the crematorium
Photographs: Sriram Selvaraj

The family received the body, which was later kept at the Officers Training Academy hospital. 

The body was taken to Varadarajan's house in Tambaram, suburban Chennai, where hundreds lined up to pay their last respects.  Tamil Nadu minister T K M Chinnayya and senior officials also paid their last respects.

Chinnayya also presented a cheque for Rs 10 lakh, which was announced by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Sunday, to the Varadarajan's family.  The body was then taken out in a procession to the crematorium at Besant Nagar.

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PHOTOS: Hundreds pay homage to Major Mukund Varadarajan

Image: The army band at the crematorium
Photographs: Sriram Selvaraj

The coffin draped with the national flag arrived just a little after 11:30 am, followed by a long line of military cars, vans, private cars, bikes, police jeeps, vans and hordes of media personnel.  After a brief military salute, the officials, who were waiting just outside the gates of the crematorium, carried the body inside to perform the last rites.

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PHOTOS: Hundreds pay homage to Major Mukund Varadarajan

Image: The coffin arrives at the crematorium
Photographs: Sriram Selvaraj

The coffin was accompanied by Mukund’s father R Varadarajan. Several family members, friends and public were already present in huge numbers inside the crematorium. 

Everyone sat quietly around, as senior military and police officials, as well as retired military personnel placed wreaths at the coffin.  Officials representing all three branches of the military -- the army, navy and the air force were present to show their respect.

PHOTOS: Hundreds pay homage to Major Mukund Varadarajan

Image: The major's wife Indhu Rebecca Varghese, receives his uniform.
Photographs: Sriram Selvaraj

The bereaved family then paid their last respects; it was heart wrenching to watch 3-year-old Arshea, daughter of the major, stand near her father’s coffin with absolutely no clue as to what was happening around her.  There was no wailing or shouting; there was this sense of pride and the family’s un-shed tears and stoicism expressed far more grief than any other outward show of emotions.

The major’s wife Indhu Rebecca Varghese, received his uniform, after which the coffin was once again carried to the inner chambers, accompanied by the military band, where only the family was allowed.  R Varadarajan, along with his wife Geetha and daughter-in-law, slowly walked in to spend a few last minutes alone with their son.

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PHOTOS: Hundreds pay homage to Major Mukund Varadarajan

Image: Arshea, 3, the major's daughter, stands near her father's coffin
Photographs: Sriram Selvaraj

The body was then cremated with full military honours amid the sound of a 42-gun salute in his honour. 

Major Mukund, a resident of Tambaram, did his BCom from Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Viswa Mahavidyalaya at Selaiyur and got a diploma in journalism from Madras Christian College, Tambaram. It was here that he met Indhu, who he married in 2009.

PHOTOS: Hundreds pay homage to Major Mukund Varadarajan

Image: The bereaved family -- father R Vardarajan,mother Geetha, and wife Indhu Rebecca Varghese
Photographs: Sriram Selvaraj

Though his father wanted him to join an MBA course, Mukund joined the Officers Training Academy in St Thomas Mount, Chennai and graduated in 2004 to become a lieutenant. Major Mukund had also served the Infantry School in Mhow, Madhya Pradesh, and in Lebanon on a United Nations Mission.  

After he was posted in Kashmir, Indhu and Arsheya had stayed in the army staff quarters in Bangalore. The major had last been home for Pongal in January this year, while he was on a 20-day leave. 

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Photographs: Sriram Selvaraj

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