PM, Sonia pay homage to YSR, thousands line funeral route

     Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress party president Sonia Gandhi on Friday paid homage to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajsekhar Reddy, who died in a helicopter crash along with four others on Wednesday morning. Floral tributes were also paid by other Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, Defence Minister AK Antony and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit at the Chief Minister's camp office in Hyderabad's Begumpet area. The leaders also wrote condolence messages in a book at the camp office. Thereafter, the funeral cortege moved out of the premises and moved along a designated route towards the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium, where it will lie in state for about three hours to allow the general public and politicians to pay their last respects to the departed leader. The Andhra Pradesh capital was a see of grieving humanity as people from all walks of life gathered in tens of thousands on major thoroughfares to give a fitting farewell to their son of the soil, YSR. The flower bedecked army truck and funeral convoy, led by his emotionally distressed son Jaganmohan Reddy, wound its way slowly through the streets of the city towards the stadium. Jagan Reddy greeted the emotionally charged masses lining the route with folded hands. Reddy's burial will be held at 5 pm in his native village in Kadapa district. The Andhra Pradesh Government has declared five days of state mourning in honour of YSR and cancelled all the official programs in the state. Reddy's Bell 430 chopper went missing on Wednesday morning at about 9.35 and could only be located almost 24 hours later on Thursday morning following day-night search operation by different units of security personnel including Army's Commandos, Air Force's Sukhoi-30, and 5,000 CRPF personnel. The wreckage was discovered atop a hill about 40 nautical miles from Kurnoool town. Along with YSR, four others-- Dr P Subramanium, the Special Secretary to the Chief Minister; ASC Wesley, Chief Security Officer and two pilots - Group Captain SK Bhatia and Captain MS Reddy - died in the crash.

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