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By SEKHAR DATTA in Agartala
  • Published 29.11.06

Agartala, Nov. 29: Maharaja Kirit Bikram Kishore Manikya achieved in death what remained a distant dream for him during his lifetime. The king couldn’t prevent a tribal clash in 1980, but in death he brought together people cutting across all ethnic, religious and caste divides.

As the funeral procession threaded its way through the thoroughfares of Agartala, thousands of mourners, cutting across ethnic affiliations, trooped onto the streets to bid a tearful farewell to the king who reigned but never ruled.

Crowds started to swell in front of the palace gates, at the airport and also the royal crematorium in Battala, 10 km north of Agartala, from the wee hours.

The state government today declared a day’s mourning. All government offices, schools and business establishments remained closed.

A pall of gloom descended on the city as the body was flown in from Tripura Palace in Calcutta this morning. It was taken to Ujjayanta Palace with full state honours. As the day wore on, crowd started to swell and by noon, it became almost an ocean of humanity.

The coronation of Kirit Bikram’s son Pradyot Kishore took inordinately long.

The last journey began at 3.15 pm after the VVIPs, including chief minister Manik Sarkar, paid floral tributes to the Maharaja who represented Tripura thrice in the Lok Sabha as Congress MP in 1967, 1977 and 1989.

After the Speaker and members of the Assembly paid their tributes, the cavalcade stopped for a while in front of Congress Bhawan where PCC president Samir Ranjan Barman placed wreaths on the Maharaja’s body. All through the funeral procession, Pradyot Kishore stood by his father’s body.

At the Battala crematorium, the wail of the crowd was pierced by 21 gun salutes. It was 5 pm and the setting sun splashed the sky in a myriad hues. Pradyot Kishore lit the pyre amid chanting of hymns.