PM, Sonia pay last respects to Sai Baba; funeral today

HYDERABAD — Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi were among the thousands of people who paid homage to Indian spiritual guru Satya Sai Baba at Prasanthi Nilayam in Puttaparthi on Tuesday.

By P.s. Jayaram

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Published: Wed 27 Apr 2011, 11:48 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 7:59 PM

Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, who arrived in Puttaparthi around 4.30pm by a special aircraft, drove straight to Sai Kulwant Hall and placed wreaths on the glass casket containing the body of Sai Baba, who died of multiple organ failure on Sunday after prolonged illness. The two leaders sat near the casket for a few minutes and paid homage even as Sai bhajans rung through the hall. The two leaders, accompanied by Union Minister Ambika Soni, were received by Andhra Pradesh Governor E S L Narasimhan and Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy at the Puttaparthi airport.

Meanwhile, ashram authorities decided to extend the final darshan timing till midnight since thousands of devotees continued to pour into Puttaparthi to catch a last glimpse of the guru. Sources said three special trains from Secunderabad, Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada were arranged to transport thousands of devotees to the town on the final day of darshan. “The queue of devotees has extended to over 1.5 km and the arrival of devotees is only increasing. We are trying to ensure that all devotees get an opportunity to have a final glimpse of Sai Baba,” an official said.

Sai Baba will be buried in the Sai Kulwant Hall with full state honours on Wednesday.

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