Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee's last rites were performed at Smriti Sthal with full state honour today. Earlier in the morning, the mortal remains of Vajpayee were taken to BJP's national headquarters at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg where people paid homage to the poet prime minister.
PM Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah were walking alongside the funeral casket. Top dignitaries from SAARC nations are attending last rites of the former Prime Minister. Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali arrived in Delhi earlier in the day to pay their last respects.
Sri Lanka's Acting Foreign Minister Lakshman Kiriella, Nepal's Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali, Pakistan's acting information minister Syed Zafar Ali and a senior minister from Afghanistan are also expected to arrive later today to pay their respects to Vajpayee.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Army Chief Bipin Rawat, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat paid homage to the former prime minister at his official residence.
05:00 pm: Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's last rites performed at Smriti Sthal with full state honour.
04:30 pm: Top dignitaries from SAARC nations - King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Sri Lanka acting Foreign Minister Lakshman Kiriella and Pakistan Law Minister Ali Zafar - pay their tributes to the former Prime Minister.
04:15 pm: Last salute accorded to former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee at Smriti Sthal.
03:55 pm: The body of former Prime Miniter Atal Bihari Vajpayee reaches Smriti Sthal. Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, PM Narendra Modi, Former PM Manmohan Singh, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP President Amit Shah, senior BJP leader LK Advani, Congress President Rahul Gandhi at Smriti Sthal for funeral of Vajpayee.
03:15 pm: The mortal remains of former Prime Miniter Atal Bihari Vajpayee being taken to Smriti Sthal for the funeral. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP national President Amit Shah and other BJP leaders walk alongside Vajpayee's cavalcade.
02:35 pm: The gun carriage carrying the remains of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee is on its way to Smriti Sthal.
01:35 pm: The funeral procession of Atalji has begun. The nation bids farewell to the former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
01:15 pm: Veteran singer Lata Mangeshkar also opened up about the loss of Atal Bihari Vajpayee during a telephonic interview. "He used to consider me as his daughter. I used to call him Dada," says Lata Mangeshkar. The veteran singer told India Today TV that the memories of Atalji cannot be erased. The veteran singer compared the feeling of losing him to the time she lost her father.
12:50 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia and AAP MP Sanjay Singh pay last respects to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at BJP Headquarters.
It was the speciality of Atal ji that he never let humanity be harmed due to the political & ideological differences. Such principle is needed in the country today: Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) General Secretary #AtalBihariVajpayeepic.twitter.com/zAnzCI2Dus- ANI (@ANI) August 17, 2018
12:35 pm: Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali will attend the funeral of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Today, he said, "We remember him (AB Vajpayee) for his contribution to Bangladesh Liberation War and strong support to people of Bangladesh. He had great liking for Bengali music. I had the privilege of serving in Delhi as career diplomat when he became Foreign Minister".
12:10 pm: Veteran BJP leader LK Advani and his daughter Pratibha Advani with Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray and his family at the BJP Headquarters. Advani and his daughter Pratibha pay last respects to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
11:50 am: Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh, DMK leader A Raja, Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal and Manipur CM N Biren Singh pay last respects to former Prime Minister AtalBihari Vajpayee at BJP Headquarters.
11:45 am: Pakistan government's delegation gets visa for former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's funeral. The delegation will pay homage to Vajpayee in New Delhi.
11:30 am: King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk arrives in Delhi. He will attend the funeral of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
10:05 am: The mortal remains of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee are being taken to BJP Headquarters at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg.
Delhi: A huge crowd of people has joined the procession as the mortal remains of former Prime Minister #AtalBihariVajpayee are being taken from his residence to the BJP Headquarters. People are chanting 'Atal Bihari amar rahe' and 'Vande Mataram'. pic.twitter.com/MYJ5BcTi9k- ANI (@ANI) August 17, 2018
10:00 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today penned down his thoughts on Vajpayee. "With the passing away of Atal Ji, India has lost an 'Anmol Ratna'," says PM Modi.
09:54 am: Former Prime Minister Vajpayee's mortal remains cavalcade leaves from his residence and will reach the Bharatiya Janata Party's national headquarters at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg shortly.
US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on AB Vajpayee
US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Thursday said that Atal Bihari Vajpayee recognised that the US-India partnership would contribute to the world's economic prosperity and security. In a statement, Pompeo said: "On behalf of the people of the United States of America, I extend my heartfelt condolences to the people of India on the recent passing of Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee."
He further said that Indians will reflect on Vajpayee's many contributions that led to the country's rise as a global and economic power. "He championed tirelessly for his country's development and demonstrated a devotion to improving the lives of every Indian," Pompeo said.
Roads that will be closed today for Vajpayee's funeral
The Delhi Traffic Police on Thursday announced that several roads in the national capital would be closed for the public today in view of Vajpayee's funeral. Some of the roads that have been closed from 8 am today are Krishna Menon Marg, Sunehri Bagh Road, Tughlak Road, Akbar Road, Tees January Marg, Man Singh Road, Bhagwan Dass Road, Shahjahan Road and Sikandara Road.
DDU Marg, IP Marg, BSZ Marg (from Tilak Bridge to Delhi Gate), JLN Marg (from Rajghat to Delhi Gate) will also be closed. Commuters have been advised to use Aurobindo Marg, Safdarjung Road, Mother Teresa Crescent, Park Street, Mandir Marg to travel between north and south Delhi. Those travelling between east and west Delhi can use Vikas Marg, Shahdara Bridge and Wazirabad Bridge to reach Ring Road.
Here's how the world reacted to the former PM's departure
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee died yesterday - a loss that was not only felt in India but the world politics as well. While India is observing seven days of state mourning as a mark of respect to Vajpayee, countries such as the United States, Russia and Japan too have condoled the demise of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The United States on AB Vajpayee
In a statement issued on Thursday, the American Embassy said that the US grieved with India on the loss of the former Prime Minister. "He will be remembered for his immense contribution in bolstering US-India relations. During his tenure, Prime Minister Vajpayee advocated for a robust partnership with the United States, referring to us as 'natural allies'," it said.
Imran Khan on AB Vajpayee
Pakistan Prime Minister-in-waiting Imran Khan in a statement said that Vajpayee was a prominent political personality of the sub-continent and his death has created a big void. "Efforts of Mr Vajpayee for improvement in relations between Pakistan and India will be remembered forever," the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief said.
Russian Ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev said, "We mourn the death of Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a great statesman." He further said that Vajpayee's name became an integral part of a whole era in Indian politics. "His devoted service to the nation can hardly be overestimated. Mr Vajpayee enjoyed due respect in India and globally. We knew him also as a poet, a man of knowledge and a true friend of our country, where he is well-known as one of the architects of our long-lasting and time-tested privileged strategic partnership," Kudashev said.
Japanese envoy to India Kenji Hiramatsu said, "I am deeply saddened by the passing away of former Prime Minister and Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee". Hailing Vajpayee as one of the most inspiring world leaders, the envoy said the upswing in India-Japan relations was only possible by the initiatives started by the former Indian Prime Minister. "The demise of such a great leader is a great loss not only to India but also to Japan and other part of Asia as well as the entire international community," he said.