Congress MP Santokh Singh Chaudhary, who died after following a cardiac arrest during the Bharat Jodo Yatra, was cremated at his native Dhaliwal village in Jalandhar district on Sunday with full state honours.
The 76-year-old two-time MP died on Saturday in Punjab's Phillaur. The yatra was suspended for 24 hours following his death. Chaudhary had fainted while participating in the march on Saturday. He was rushed to a private hospital in Phagwara where he was declared brought dead. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi paid tributes to Chaudhary at the cremation ground. He described Chaudhary as a hardworking leader and a strong pillar of the party.
Congress leaders including, the party's state unit chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Leader of Opposition Partap Singh Bajwa, former chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi, MP Mohd Sadique, besides senior officials from the district administration and police attended the cremation. On Sunday morning, scores of people, including Congress supporters, paid their last respects to Chaudhary at his residence in Jalandhar where his body was kept. Later the body was brought to his native village Dhaliwal for cremation. His son Vikramjit Singh lit the pyre.
Chaudhary, a prominent Dalit leader of the Doaba region, belonged to a family with a rich political legacy. His father Master Gurbanta Singh, a Dalit stalwart, was a seven-time MLA and also a former Punjab agriculture minister. Chaudhary's elder brother Chaudhary Jagjit Singh was a five-time MLA and had been local bodies minister. Vikramjit Singh is a Congress MLA from the Phillaur assembly seat.
Santokh Singh Chaudhary was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2014 and 2019. He had been an MLA thrice and was a minister in the Congress governments in 1992 and 2002. Cutting across party lines, many leaders including Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, former CM Amarinder Singh, and Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal expressed grief over Chaudhary's death. The Rahul Gandhi-led Kanyakumari to Kashmir yatra will resume at 3 pm on Sunday from Khalsa College Groundin Jalandhar. It will halt for the night at Adampur, according to the schedule of the yatra.
The Punjab leg of the march began on Wednesday from Sirhind in Fatehgarh Sahib. The yatra took a break on Friday in the wake of the Lohri festival. The yatra, which started from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu on September 7, will conclude in Srinagar by January 30, with Gandhi hoisting the national flag in the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
The march has so far covered Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.