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Former Prime Minister Desai Cremated in India

April 12, 1995 GMT

NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ As priests chanted hymns and gun salutes boomed, the body of former Prime Minister Morarji Desai was cremated Wednesday near the retreat of his mentor, Mohandas K. Gandhi.

Desai died Monday in Bombay at the age of 99.

Braving a torrid sun, hundreds of thousands of people in the western city of Ahmedabad, in Desai’s native Gujarat state, lined the funeral route of the man known for honesty and uprightness.

Desai’s 70-year-old son, Kanti, lit the funeral pyre in accordance with the Hindu custom of cremating the dead. The cremation took place at the Gandhi Ashram Gaushala on the banks of the Sabarmathi River.

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Many people who fought alongside Desai for India’s independence sobbed as military officials led the cortege.

Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and his Cabinet were among the dignitaries present.

Desai was prime minister from 1977 to 1979, a brief interlude in the 17-year leadership of Indira Gandhi.