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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 November 2005, 13:59 GMT
India mourns Dalit ex-president
Former President Narayanan's body at the cremation ground in Delhi
Mr Narayanan was cremated on the banks of the Yamuna
Former Indian President KR Narayanan has been cremated with full military honours in the capital, Delhi.

The state funeral, with 21-gun salute, was attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other leading dignitaries.

Mr Narayanan was the first Dalit, or untouchable, to serve as president, holding the post from 1997-2002.

He died on Wednesday aged 85, after a week in hospital in a coma, suffering from pneumonia. He had been in poor health for some time.

Ten days of mourning have been announced throughout India.

Affirmation

Mr Narayanan's remains were cremated on the banks of the Yamuna river amid chanting of prayers.

Cabinet ministers, diplomats and other political leaders placed floral wreaths on the funeral pyre, to which presidential bodyguards had brought the body wrapped in the Indian flag.

He was a monumental personality - a personality who proved what the Indian republic stands for
Former PM IK Gujral

Flags are flying at half-mast across India, and no official engagements will take place during the mourning period.

Earlier, dignitaries had paid their last respects at a government guest house in the capital, where Mr Narayanan's body lay in state.

Analysts say Mr Narayanan's rise to the important if largely ceremonial role of president from the Dalit caste was a remarkable achievement.

Many saw it as an affirmation of India's democratic roots.

The caste system was banned in 1950 but centuries of tradition made it difficult to break entrenched attitudes.

Narayanan's funeral pyre
Wreaths were laid before the pyre was lit

The former president had a long association with the Congress Party after India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, appointed him to the diplomatic service.

Before becoming president, Mr Narayanan served as Indian ambassador in Beijing and Washington.

He won a seat in parliament in 1980 and enjoyed an impeccably clean reputation.

He was admitted to the Army's Research and Referral Hospital in Delhi on 29 October suffering from pneumonia and kidney failure, defence ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said on Wednesday.

He is survived by his wife and two daughters.


SEE ALSO:
Obituary: KR Narayanan
09 Nov 05 |  South Asia
KR Narayanan: Your tributes
09 Nov 05 |  South Asia
Former Indian president in coma
02 Nov 05 |  South Asia
India inaugurates new president
25 Jul 02 |  South Asia
Country profile: India
07 Nov 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: India
09 Nov 05 |  Country profiles


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