V.C. Shukla cremated with state honours

Raipur, June 12 (IANS) Former union minister and Congress leader V.C. Shukla, who died of wounds he suffered during the May 25 Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh, was cremated with full state honours Wednesday at his farmhouse here.

Shukla's grandson (daughter's son) Vinayak Pandey lit the funeral pyre at a rectangular platform that the late leader had built at his farmhouse Radheshyam Bhawan. Shukla had conveyed to his family and friends that he should be cremated there.

Minister of State for Home R.P.N. Singh, Congress treasurer Motilal Vora, Congress general secretaries Digvijay Singh and B.K. Hariprasad flew from Delhi and joined Chhattisgarh Governor Shekhar Dutt, Chief Minister Raman Singh and several BJP leaders for the funeral.

Shukla, who was first elected to the Lok Sabha when he was 28, spent nearly 60 years in active politics. He represented the Congress nine times in the Lok Sabha since 1957.

He died at the age of 84 Tuesday at Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon, Haryana, after battling for life for 17 days. He is survived by his wife and three daughters.

He was shot in his chest, abdomen and thigh and had lost a lot of blood in the attack on the Congress convoy in Chhattisgarh's Bastar region, which claimed 28 other lives.

The Maoist attack had wiped out many key figures of the state's opposition Congress, including state unit chief Nand Kumar Patel and tribal leader Mahendra Karma. Karma was a former minister in the Ajit Jogi-led government and the architect of the anti-Maoist movement Salwa Judum.

A shutdown called by the Raipur Chamber of Commerce and Industry as a mark of respect to Shukla in Raipur was total.

Shukla's last journey began from state Congress headquarters Gandhi Bhawan, and passed through the bustling Malviya Road and the city's crowded areas such as Jai Stambh Chowk, Bhagat Singh Square and Telibandha to his farm house.

Hundreds of supporters and Congress cadres lined up at Gandhi Bhawan starting 9 a.m. to pay their last respects to Shukla.

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