Thousands brave heat & rain to pay last respects to slain BSP leader Armstrong

Despite the soaring heat in the afternoon, the crowd of mourners continued to wait in line and offer their respects.
K Armstrong murder
Huge crowd seen waiting to pay the last their respects to K Armstrong, state chief of BSP who was murdered on Friday.(Photo | P Ravikumar, EPS)

CHENNAI: Thousands of people gathered at the corporation school ground in Perambur to pay their respects to K Armstrong, state chief of BSP who was murdered on Friday.

Despite the soaring heat in the afternoon, the crowd of mourners continued to wait in line and offer their respects. Many of them had come to take a glimpse of Armstrong for the first and last time.

R Panidan of Vyasarpadi, who is working in a private company said, “I’m not from any party but I have seen Armstrong’s videos on YouTube. Through him I got to know about the teachings of BR Ambedkar and Buddha. I then read a lot more about them on my own. I have not met him personally but after I heard about his murder, I wanted to come and see him.”

Just a couple of hundred metres from the school ground was the spot where Armstrong was hacked to death by the gang.

People who had come to pay respects also visited the spot where Armstrong breathed his last. The exact spot where Armstrong fell, with few bloodstains, was turned into a small memorial and garlands were placed around it. The cramped street saw hundreds of people who came to see the place of the gruesome incident.

Apart from a medical shop, other restaurants, grocery stores and supermarkets were shut in the area. Posters of Armstrong were pasted on their shutters. To buy essential items like water, biscuits or other emergency items, one had to walk at least a kilometre. Around afternoon, an elderly woman who was waiting in line to reach the stage, swooned due to the heat, and was later ushered to safety by her family.

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Despite the inconveniences, several families which had come to pay respects soldiered on and saw Armstrong’s body one last time. Pasupathy of Vandavasi had come to Chennai a few years ago. He had earlier met Armstrong and expressed his interest to study.

“Armstrong anna paid the full fees for my MA Buddhism course. I stayed at places arranged by him and completed the course. He had arranged my marriage too,” Pasupathy, who came to pay respects along with his wife and one-year-old daughter, said.

The body was carried in a procession to Pothur despite the evening showers. Crowds gathered along the route to get a glimpse of the departed politician. The procession reached the burial site at midnight after eight hours. Buddhist monks from several places were present at the site.

The body was laid to rest around 1 am according to Buddhist tradition in the presence of TNCC president K Selvaperunthagai, VCK chief Thol Thirumavalavan and film director Pa Ranjith. A large posse of police personnel stood guarding the place.

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