Tearful adieu to Son of the Soil

Purno A. Sangma laid to rest with full state honours

The whole Sangma family breaks down near the casket in Tura on Monday. (UB)
The whole Sangma family breaks down near the casket in Tura on Monday.

TURA: The sun a drop of amber, the wind a soft lay; it seemed as though the earth had prepared an elaborate requiem for the parting patriarch.
Right from the residence of  Purno Agitok Sangma  at Walbakgre as the cavalcade began, mourners lined up the road to pay their last respects, some having braved the humid weather for hours.
A sombre crowd quietly tread along, its silence only broken by the click of constantly flashing cameras desperate to capture this moment in history
The venue for the state funeral couldn’t have been at a better place other than the MP stadium, now called the Dikki Bandi stadium, which was the dream of the late leader to establish a sporting arena dedicated to the youth of Garo Hills.
Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma led the state in mourning the passing of one of the most famous sons of Garo Hills. Paying rich tributes to Sangma, the Chief Minister said “God has been kind to have given us a leader of such stature.”
Terming Purno Sangma’s death a great loss to the nation, the Chief Minister added that the people of Garo Hills feels it the most. “The voice which represented us has fallen silent,” said Mukul Sangma.
He also termed Late Sangma as an instrument of stability during an era when political instability was the order of the day in the state.
“As a leader who dared to dream big, his words will inspire all of us. He was loved by all- his political comrades and opponents alike” said the Chief Minister.
The state funeral witnessed mammoth crowds of people who thronged the venue from different corners of Garo Hills even as dignitaries of various political parties came to pay their last respects.
The Meghalaya police accorded a 21 gun salute as a mark of respect to the departed leader while floral wreaths were laid by the dignitaries on the casket which had been draped with the national tricolor.
Floral tributes were paid by the Chief Minister,  Deputy Chief Minister RC Laloo, Chief Adviser to the Government of Meghalaya, DD Lapang, former Chief Minister and State Planning Board Chairman Salseng C. Marak, MP and former Chief Minister of Nagaland, Neiphiu Rio, former Chief Minister of Manipur, R B Koijam, former Union Minister and Working President, NPP,  Arvind Netam, Meghalaya Assembly Speaker, A T Mondal, Leader of the Opposition & former Chief Minister, Donkupar Roy, Speaker of Nagaland Assembly, Chotisuh Sazo, Cabinet ministers  Prestone Tynsong, Debora C. Marak, A.L. Hek, Zenith Sangma, Roshan Warjri,  Clement Marak and Ampareen Lyngdoh, while floral wreathe on behalf of the Assam Governor P B Acharya was laid by Shillong MP Vincent Pala and on behalf of Meghalaya Governor  V. Shanmuganathan the wreathe was placed by his ADC Dy Comdt. Trideep Sangma. Dignitary after dignitary, during their speech, spoke highly of the contributions P A Sangma made for the north east and the country as a whole. They termed his demise an irreparable loss which had created a vacuum.
Condolence messages received from across the country, including from the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee and AICC President Sonia Gandhi, were also read out during the programme.
Youngest daughter and former union minister of state, Agatha K Sangma, while speaking on behalf of her bereaved family, extended a note of gratitude for all the support they had received from all quarters of life during their moment of tragedy. She also expressed her gratitude to the Almighty “for giving us a father like P A Sangma.”
As the mortal remains of the late leader were handed over to the family and the final journey began for the funeral service at the Cathedral church, 7 kms away, thousands of people lined the streets to bid their last farewell and have a glimpse of his casket.
Bishop of Tura, Rt Rev Andrew R Marak,  led a large number of priests in concelebrating holy mass in memory of P A Sangma and read from the holy Bible about the resurrection of Lazarus by Christ. The premises of the church and the road leading to it were choke-a-bloc with people as the body of P A Sangma was laid to rest at the cemetery just as darkness had descended and gloom had spread among his well-wishers.

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