Supporters throng R R Patil's village to pay last respects

Almost everyone in Sangli had just one person on their minds yesterday, as they waited to catch a last glimpse of senior NCP leader and former Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil at his native village, Anjani, after he passed away on February 16 due to oral cancer.

More than a lakh supporters turned up from all over the state to pay homage to Patil, whose body was brought to his village residence in a procession
More than a lakh supporters turned up from all over the state to pay homage to Patil, whose body was brought to his village residence in a procession

More than a lakh supporters turned up from all over the state to pay homage to Patil, whose body was brought to his village residence in a procession. Hordes of people began collecting outside Patil’s house on Monday itself, and as they waited, they chanted, “R R Patil parat ya, parat ya Aaba, parat ya..” (Come back,R R Patil, come back Aaba).

Anticipating that the crowd would swell even further, the local civic administration decided to prepare a larger site for the leader’s last rites a 50-acre ground usually used for cattle-grazing about a kilometre away from the Patil residence.

Around 7 am, his mortal remains were brought by road to Sangli district and kept at the NCP office in Tasgaon. From there, a procession followed the body for 20 km till it reached his residence in Anjani. Following some rituals at the house, around 11.45 am, Patil’s remains were then taken to the ground, where he was cremated at 2.15 pm.

Preparations
Hemant Nikam, deputy divisional collector of Sangli district, said, “We finalised the land assuming that more than one lakh people would be coming for the procession. More than 2,000 policemen from Sangli police, Sangli police training, Pune city police, and Satara and Kolhapur police were deployed at the spot. Flying cameras were also arranged to monitor the area.”

By 3 am, a pyre was constructed at the ground for the last rites, and four barricaded routes were created so that people could see Patil. More than 7 quintals of flowers were ordered from Sangli and Satara. More than 1 quintal of sandalwood and about 250 kg of ghee was brought in for the rites.

“But we realised that there would a fairly large number of VIP and VVIPs present, and more wreaths would be needed. So, with the help of the Public Works Department (PWD), we got another quintal of flowers, as well as water bottles,” said Ajeet Suryawanshi, who coordinated the process. In addition, 16 locations were identified and prepared with makeshift helipads for helicopter landings.

Voices

Ramesh Shinde, Former API, Pune police
Patil did a lot of things not only for policemen, but also for our families. I could not believe he had died, and so I came from Pune on my bike for one last look at him

Tukaba Chavan, Nanded resident
Our family is safe today because of this man. He was the first home minister to visit our Gadchiroli district and observe the Naxal terror. He made a lot of changes in the administrative structure in the police department, and today my children can roam on the street without any fear.

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