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Fernandes' ashes buried in Delhi cemetery, taken to Bengaluru

Amid prayers and sound of a bugle, George Fernandes' ashes were on Friday buried at a colonial-era cemetery in the heart of Delhi, and part of the remains will be taken to Bengaluru, his family said.

The mortal remains of George Fernandes were cremated in New Delhi on Thursday amid chants of 'George Sahab amar rahe' as family, friends and admirers bid an emotional goodbye to the socialist leader.

"Parts of his ashes were interred this morning at Prithviraj Road Christian Cemetery. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and George's friends and admirers were present. We bid the final adieu to him," Fernandes' brother Michael Fernandes said on Friday.

Born in 1930, in Karnataka's Mangalore, Fernandes also grew up in Bengaluru and his contribution towards realising the Konkan Railway dream is still recalled by people.

"So, people have that emotional connect with him," he said.

"People in his birth place, Mangalore, and also those in Bengaluru have been requesting to bury part of his remains in the two cities. So, we are taking part of the ashes to Bengaluru," he said.

Fernandes died on Tuesday at the age of 88 at his residence -- 'Shanti Niwas' -- in upscale Panchsheel Park after prolonged illness. He was suffering from Alzheimer's disorder that had left him debilitated.

At the cemetery, the ashes were buried in a wooden casket, bearing a shining cross, amid strains of soulful hymns after a short prayer service held at the cemetery located in Lutyens' Delhi.

Amid a sombre atmosphere, the casket was lowered into a grave after three Gurkha Rifles' personnel sounded 'The Last Post' with their bugles, bidding final farewell to the former defence minister.

Incidentally, no fresh burials are allowed at the British-era Prithviraj Road Christian Cemetery, which has graves dating to early 20th century as well.

The Chairman of Delhi Cemeteries Committee, J Rebello, when contacted, said, "George Fernandes had booked it long ago before fresh burials were closed here. So, his burial took place there."

"As of now, second burials in old graves of family members are allowed in this cemetery, but no fresh burials," said the head of the Delhi Cemeteries Committee, which administers the cemetery.

Michael Fernandes said, George had once expressed his desire that his remains be buried in Bengaluru.

"It was at the last rites of our brother Lawrence at a cemetery off Hosur Road in Bangalore in 2005. He got very emotional, and, later told me that he would wish his remains to be buried in the same cemetery," he said.

Nitish Kumar, who arrived in Delhi on Tuesday after hearing of Fernandes' death, stayed throughout the last rites at the cemetery, and planted a candle next to his grave after his casket was lowered.

Family members and friends offered earth in his grave praying for eternal peace for the departed soul.

A group of Tibetans, who had come come from Majnu ka Tila here, offered ceremonial Buddhist scarves in his grave. Fernandes had proximity with The Dalai Lama.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, BJP veteran L K Advani, Union ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Ravi Shankar Prasad, senior leaders Sharad Yadav and Upendra Kushwaha were among those who had attended the cremation at the Lodhi electric crematorium on Thursday.

Chants of 'George Sahab amar rahe' (long live George Sahab), 'Jab tak suraj chand rahega, Goerge tera naam rahega' (Your name will be as immortal as the sun and the moon) also rented the air at the crematorium as he undertook his final journey to eternity.