India to observe 5-day mourning for 'The True Gandhian' Nelson Mandela

The nation paid rich tributes to anti-apartheid hero and former South African president Nelson Mandela, who passed away after a prolonged illness. Both houses of parliament were adjourned for the day after paying homage to the Nobel laureate, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh describing him as a ‘giant among men’ and ‘a true Gandhian’.

Sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik places flowers on a sand sculpture he made in tribute to former South African president Nelson Mandela at the Golden Sea Beach in Puri. (Below) People in Kolkata gathered in huge crowds to pay a candle vigil to honour the anti-apartheid icon. Pics/AFP

President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice-President Hamid Ansari also condoled the death of the iconic fighter for justice whose 27 years in prison turned the anti-apartheid fight into a global campaign. The nation announced a five-day national mourning. The Congress leadership too condoled the death.

The government said a very high level delegation from India would attend the funeral to be held on December 15. External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said: “His death is a loss for South Africa and India.” Mandela was a recipient of Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award.

In the Lok Sabha, members across the spectrum remembered the South African leader as an inspiring figure.Congress president Sonia Gandhi said it was ‘as though we have lost a beloved father’. “He redefined the meaning of courage and sacrifice,” she said, adding that his courage was ‘superhuman’.

Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj said Mandela ‘struggled against apartheid and served long years in jail and still he did not have a frown on his face’. Speaker Meira Kumar recalled her visit to the prison cell where Mandela was confined for 27 years.

“The visit was like a pilgrimage,” she said. In Kolkata, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said his lifelong struggle and sacrifice will be the source of inspiration for generations. “His passing away is a huge loss to humanity,” said Banerjee.

@ RIP Nelson Mandela. The world has lost an apostle of peace & non-violence who redefined the journey of his nation for the good of humankind. Many of us are not fortunate to see Gandhi ji alive. We are blessed to see the life of Nelson Mandela, who embodied his values & ideals.
- Narendra Modi@narendramodi

@ A giant among men has passed away. This is as much India’s loss as South Africa’s. He was a true Gandhian. His life and work will remain a source of eternal inspiration for generations to come. I join all those who are praying for his soul.
- Dr Manmohan Singh, @PMOIndia

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