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Monday, 3 February, 2003, 12:52 GMT
India remembers its 'glory girl'
People in Karnal town pay tribute
Ms Chawla "was considered a national heroine in India"
India held a second day of mourning on Monday for Kalpana Chawla, one of seven astronauts killed when space Shuttle Columbia broke apart.

Tributes flowed in and schools closed in Haryana, the home state of Ms Chawla, who was considered a national heroine.
Our bird has flown away

Card attached to floral tribute
Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani said she was a credit to her country.

"For a girl to achieve this kind of glory is of a nature that heightens our confidence," he said.

Memory honoured

In the northern town of Karnal, Ms Chawla's birth place, hundreds of residents prayed, laid flowers and bowed before her photograph.

At the Punjab Engineering College where she had been a student, faculty members met to discuss proposals for honouring the astronaut's memory by naming a building after her.
Mourner clutching picture of Kalpana Chawla,
Karnal residents gathered to honour Chawla's memory

"Our bird has flown away", said the card attached to a flower placed outside the laboratory where the astronaut used to work.

Earlier, friends and relatives had gathered at the house where she had been born to celebrate her return from the mission.

But as the news of the tragedy hit home, joy turned to grief and a stream of people shocked by the turn of events rushed to the house to convey their condolences.

"She used to stand on the verandah and look at stars for hours when she was a kid," relative Vijay Sethia told Reuters news agency.

Prime minister's message

India's Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee sent a message of condolence to United States President George W Bush.

"For us in India, the fact that one of them was an Indian-born woman adds a special poignancy to the tragedy," his statement said.

We still haven't come out of our shock

Vijay Sotia, relative
Ms Chawla, who first flew on the shuttle six years ago, was described by one Indian newspaper as "the first Indian woman to reach out for the stars".

Her face appeared on the front cover of the national magazine India Today two weeks ago.

In a list celebrating heroes and heroines who left India to work and live abroad, Ms Chawla's name was at the top.

Family's distress

Sunday's national newspapers all carried front-page photos of her, highlighting a national sense of loss.

Magazine cover featuring Kalpana Chawla
Chawla was recently hailed as one of India's brightest stars
"She wanted to show the world that even for a small-town Indian girl, the sky wasn't the limit," Mr Sehia said. "We still haven't come out of our shock."

Although the people of India feel a profound sense of loss at the death of one of their brightest lights, Ms Chawla was indeed - as India Today described her - a global Indian.

She herself recently said that, although she took great pride in her roots, she did not feel Indian in space.

"When you look at the stars and the galaxy, you feel that you are not just from any particular piece of land, but from the solar system," she said.

The BBC's Adam Mynott
"Her death has left millions of Indians with a sense of loss"
George Fernandes, Indian Defence Minister
"It is a great tragedy"

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02 Feb 03 | South Asia
01 Feb 03 | Americas
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