Actors Amitabh Bachchan and son Abhishek Bachchan, actor- turned-Congress MP Raj Babbar, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and senior ministers of his government, and over 25,000 employees from across the state in their white-and-black uniforms.
It was a show of strength in Lucknow on Saturday as Sahara chief Subrata Roy, who was granted parole for four weeks by the Supreme Court following his mother’s death, led a march to the funeral ground to perform the last rites of Chhabi Roy, 95, who died early Thursday.
Roy was sent to jail in 2013 following a dispute with market regulator SEBI on alleged irregularities in collecting funds from investors.
The funeral was scheduled at 4 pm but Sahara City on the outskirts of Lucknow was buzzing with activity since early morning with employees of the company and politicians cutting across party lines arriving to offer their condolences.
The Bachchans and Akhilesh Yadav, who arrived at 3 pm, remained with Roy until the start of the funeral procession around 4.20 pm. Sources said that senior minister Shivpal Singh Yadav met Roy in the morning; two other ministers Arvind Singh Gope and Nitin Agarwal were present until the start of the procession.
Congress Rajya Sabha MPs Babbar and Pramod Tiwari accompanied Roy till the cremation site about two and-a-half kilometres away from Sahara City, as traffic on the road came to a standstill for about three hours. One camera mounted on a drone captured the procession, while another on a crane shot the last rites that ended around 9.30 pm.
The procession halted for a brief while when Roy got down from the vehicle carrying his mother’s body to pay tributes before the “Bharat Mata” statue inside the Sahara complex. The vehicle was followed by thousands of Sahara employees from various districts, including Gorakhpur, Bahraich, Faizabad, Sitapur and even far-off Bundelkhand.
Some vehicles carried signboards to denote their location — one, for instance, said “Faizabad division of Sahara”.
Roy alighted from the vehicle a second time, about a kilometre away from the cremation site, and walked the rest of the way with traffic police, deployed in huge numbers using cranes to remove parked vehicles that were blocking the way.
At the cremation ground, Roy opted for a traditional cremation with wood instead of electric facility installed by Sahara and carrying a huge monogram of the company.
Asked why he came all the way from Bahraich to attend the funeral, Atul Gupta, a Sahara agent, said, “I have been associated with them for 29 years and it is more like a family.” Gupta said that he had taken photographs of the procession to “show confused investors back home”.