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Violence, unruly scenes mar Gopinath Munde's final journey

Union minister Gopinath Munde's funeral in Parli, Beed yesterday was no solemn affair, with sloganeers, stone pelters and political talk robbing the event of decorum

Gopinath Munde (64), who died in a car crash in Delhi on Tuesday, was cremated amid considerable chaos at a ground next to his sugar factory in Parli taluka in his home district of Beed around 1.30 pm yesterday.

Also read: Daughter Pankaja performs Gopinath Munde's last rites, may succeed his legacy

out of control: Police had to lathicharge at the crowd to rein in the disarray at Gopinath Munde’s funeral in Beed yesterday
Out of control: Police had to lathicharge at the crowd to rein in the disarray at Gopinath Munde’s funeral in Beed yesterday. PicS/Nimesh Dave

The last rites of the deceased Union minister were speckled with aggressive emotion, requiring police intervention to be restrained. On the one hand, his supporters shouted slogans similar to those raised at Bal Thackeray’s funeral: ‘Parat ya, parat ya, Mundesaheb parat ya (Come back, come back, Munde come back)’. While on the other hand, some people began pelting stones and tossing furniture when they couldn’t get near the body to pay their last respects.

At one time, items that were part of the event — from flowers to chairs to water bottles — were flying in the air at each other, chucked by furious supporters. The police had to resort to lathi charge to get a girdle on the situation.

Munde’s body had been flown from Mumbai to Parli via Latur at around 11.45 am. It was then transported directly to the cremation site.

When the situation on ground took an uproarious turn, with tempers scaling the heights of the May temperature, some BJP leaders tried to pacify the crowd. It was only when Munde’s daughter, MLA Pankaja, appealed to the people to maintain order that they calmed down. The taut nerves erupted again when it came time to see the body up close and pay respects, necessitating police action.

Political stalwarts including Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, Republican Party of India (A) president Ramdas Athawale, Union minister Prakash Javdekar, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh were present at the funeral.

Munde’s mother Limbabai was not informed about her son’s death until morning. She was brought to the cremation ground and seated at a spot, since her mobility is restricted.

Talking shop
Political talk hovered in the air at what was to be a sombre affair. Munde’s estranged nephew, Dhananjay, now member of the Nationalist Congress Party, was overheard, saying he would have to spearhead the responsibility, being the eldest in the family. He then said that he didn’t want to talk shop given the occasion.

There were rumours that his car was attacked while he was making his way to the cremation site. His last communication with Munde had been a message to Munde when he took oath as Union minister on May 26.

Anti-Gadkari slogans
Bearing in mind the political rivalry between Munde and Gadkari, the slogan shouters were harsh — some demanded a CBI inquiry and others cried ‘Gadkari Murdabad’. A particular catchphrase — ‘Gadkaricha karaycha kay? Khali mundka, var pay (What to do with Gadkari? Hang him upside down)’ — was bandied about without constraint. One of the zesty sloganeers, Pandurang Jaybhaye, said, “We can’t believe that our leader died in a car accident. There has to be some foul play. It is a Brahmin’s nature to not let leaders from other castes get ahead.”

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