Arunachal CM`s mortal remains airlifted to Itanagar

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GUWAHATI, May 5 (NNN): The mortal remains of Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Dorjee Khandu, who died in a chopper crash on last Saturday, has been brought to the state capital Itanagar today. Khandu will be accorded state funeral in Itanagar on Friday. However, as per the wishes of late Dorjee Khandu, the Monpa tribe traditional practice of the last rites would not be performed. Late Dorjee Khandu hailed from Monpa tribe.

According to the Monpa tribal funeral a dead body has to be chopped into 108 pieces `“ equal to the number of beads in a rosary for Buddhist prayers `“ and throwing them into the rivers for fish and other aquatic creatures to feed on. The belief is that a lifeless human body should be of utility to lesser beings.

Dorjee Khandu was against the traditional system and opted for a shift to eco-friendly cremation, according to Yeshe Dorjee Thongchi, former bureaucrat and litterateur. He is an authority on customs of northwestern Arunachal Pradesh.

Dorjee Khandu`s motal remains was airlifted to Itanagar Thursday afternoon after it was recovered from near Luguthang near Tawang district where the chopper he was traveling in had crashed. His body and those of the other four crash victims were first flown to Tawang 60km northeast of the crash site.

`The chief minister will be accorded state funeral here (Itanagar) on Friday. The mortal remains will also be taken to Tawang, his hometown. We are expecting the Prime Minister and other dignitaries from New Delhi,` said government spokesman Jarbom Gamlin.

Dorjee Khandu is survived by his four wives and six children.

Dorjee Khandu, born on March 3, 1955, is one of very few school dropouts to become chief minister of an Indian state. He dropped out after the eighth standard, but his schooling was in a bhoti, the Buddhist equivalent of an Islamic madarsa.

Hailing from Gyangkhar village in Tawang district, Khandu belonged to the Monpa tribe. He was in the Indian Army Intelligence Corps and worked there for more than seven years. He received a gold medal for meritorious intelligence services rendered during Bangladesh War. He subsequently switched to social activism and politics.

He won his first assembly election from Mukto constituency in 1990 and became minister (cooperation) for the first time in March 1995. He handled various ministries including veterinary, power and mines before replacing Gegong Apang as chief minister on April 9, 2007.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and AICC leaders including Sonia Gandhi will also take part in the state funeral in Itanagar on Friday. The arrival of top AICC leaders on Friday is also expected to erase the suspense over who would be Khandu`™s successors. Five names including former chief minister and Rajya Sabha MP Mukut Mithi, PCC president Nabam Tuki and Gamlin are doing the rounds.

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