India bids adieu to former president amid Covid-19 restrictions

New Delhi, Sep 1 (efe-epa).- India on Tuesday bid adieu to former president Pranab Mukherjee (2012-2017), a day after he died at the age of 84, in a state funeral and cremation marked by restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

After a military parade in its honor, Mukherjee’s funeral took place the Lodhi crematorium in capital New Delhi and was attended by just five members of his family, with many attendees dressed in special personal protective equipment as per anti-Covid protocols.

The former president had tested positive for the new coronavirus on Aug. 10 while being admitted at a hospital for a brain surgery, and therefore his remains were transferred in a closed truck instead of the usual open armored car used in state funerals.

The infection curve of the pandemic has kept rising unabated in India, with over 3.6 million cases reported so far.

Ahead of the ceremony, President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and leaders from different political parties paid their respects at a wake at Mukherjee’s residence.

Mukherjee had died on Monday after undergoing a brain surgery earlier in August and later developing health complications that made him slip into a coma.

The leader was admitted to the Army Hospital (Research and Referral) for a surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain.

On the day of his admission, Mukherjee had announced on social media that he had tested positive for the new coronavirus in pre-admission tests.

After the operation, the hospital informed that Mukherjee was in deep coma and afterwards his health continued to deteriorate as he developed a lung infection and suffered renal failure. He had been kept on ventilator support since then.

After his death, the ministry of home affairs declared a state mourning period of seven days for the entire country until Sep. 6.

Mukherjee was elected as the 13th president of India on July 25, 2012 at the age of 76, after a political career spanning five decades with the center-left Indian National Congress party, currently in the opposition.

After first being elected to the parliament in 1969, Mukherjee held almost all important political posts of the country, including stints at the helm of the foreign, finance and defense ministries and the deputy chairmanship of the planning commission

In 2017, after completing his term as the president, Mukherjee decided to retire from political life due to age-related health complications, although he continued to appear in events and participating in public life at times. EFE-EPA


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