Assam's longest-serving Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi, was cremated today after a multi-faith funeral procession, symbolising the cardinal value of ethnic and religious harmony that he always wanted Assam to uphold.
Thousands from various faiths thronged to pay their last respects to the late leader, who was Chief Minister of the state from 2001 to 2015. Mr Gogoi passed away on Monday, November 23, at the age of 86 following multi-organ failure due to post-COVID-19 complications.
Many in the crowd couldn't hold back their tears while some merely stood in solidarity with the man often credited with pulling Assam back from the laps of insurgency and guiding it towards development.
"He would go to any place when called for by the public, by the young people. He was very friendly to us and his smiles was supreme…he always carried a smile on his face," said Ankita Borthakur, a student who was among the thousands seeking a last glimpse of Mr Gogoi's body as it was carried to various religious establishments dotting Guhawati.
The convoy that left his official residence in Guwahati, first arrived at the Rukminigaon Catholic Cathedral, where a crowd chanted a prayer for his "resurrection to salvation" as the casket carrying his body was lowered to take him to the lord inside.
"He was the great unifier for Assam. He never looked at what community or religion a person belongs to. For him, humanity and human beings were supreme," Father Mathew, one of the church's representatives, told NDTV.
Mr Gogoi was then taken to the Zoo Road Naamghar, where a heartbroken crowd of hundreds sang Naam Kirtan for his safe passage to the afterlife.
The next stop was at the Burha Jama Masjid and the Sukreswar Mandir on the banks of the Brahmaputra and then the Ugratara Devalaya.
"His last wish was that his mortal remains should be taken to religious places of different faiths since he always believed that the secular, multi-ethnic, multi-religious fabric of the country was its main strength," the late leader's son and Lok Sabha MP, Gaurav Gogoi, told NDTV.
By around 2 pm, the convoy reached the Navagraha crematorium, where a state funeral was organised, attended by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and his many cabinet ministers, including BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma.
As Gaurav Gogoi performed the last rites, it was curtains on an illustrious political career.