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India pays tribute to popular ex-PM Vajpayee


New Delhi   –       Thousands of Indians paid their respects to late premier Atal Vajpayee amid full state honours in New Delhi on Friday.

Vajpayee was among India’s most popular politicians and a founding leader of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

He died on Thursday at the age of 93 in a hospital in New Delhi, where he was being treated for a kidney infection and chest congestion.

On Friday, crowds chanted “Long Live Atal Bihari” and followed a procession as the leader’s body was taken in a glass casket draped in the national flag to his party headquarters in Delhi.

His body is due to be cremated near the banks of the river Yamuna in the Indian capital later Friday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and top BJP leaders led thousands of people who lined up to pay homage homage to the departed politician.

The government has announced a seven-day national mourning and schools and offices are shut in many Indian states today.

Vajpayee served three times as prime minister: first for 13 days in 1996, for several months between 1998 and 1999, and then a full-term from 1999 to 2004.

He retired from politics in 2005.

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