BHUBANESWAR: Thousands of people thronged the City airport to catch a final glimpse of senior Congress leader Lalatendu Bidyadhar (Lulu) Mohapatra whose mortal remains arrived here on Monday evening.
A large number of people without political affiliations, leaders cutting across party lines, youths and students gathered at Biju Patnaik International Airport to pay their last respect to Mohapatra.
As the remains came out through the special gate of the airport, the crowd rushed to touch the coffin. People made their best attempts to get closer to the vehicle which was converted into a hearse. Lulu’s younger brother Lalitendu and some of his close confidantes were atop the vehicle. As the crowd surged, the surrounding echoed with slogans of Mohapatra’s supporters - ‘Lulu Bhai Amar Rahe’.
The traffic on Airport Road to Rajmahal came to a standstill as the hearse left the airport with a huge rally escorting the vehicle. People lined up along the entire route upto Mohapatra’s quarters at Unit VI where an army of the departed leader’s supporters and senior Congress leaders were present. Mohapatra’s body was kept at his quarters where people from all walks of life paid their last respects to the departed soul.
As many as 12 platoons of forces were deployed at different junctions of the city to avoid any untoward incident during the procession.
A condolence meeting was organised at Congress Bhawan by Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee. OPCC president Prasad Harichandan said Congress will observe three days of mourning in Lulu’s memory.
Former Chief Minister Hemananda Biswal said the void created by Lulu’s demise is difficult to fill. ‘’He left us at a critical time as the panchayat elections are close,’’ he said.
Mohapatra’s body will be taken to Congress Bhawan and Odisha Legislative Assembly on Tuesday where prayer sessions are scheduled to be held. Later, Lulu’s body will be taken to his village Gada Radanga in Bramhagiri where his last rites will be performed, sources said.