Late President's Ashes Gathered

by: Nivedta Kowlessar

(Courtesy of the Guyana Chronicle - March 14, 1997)

Family members of the late President Cheddi Jagan, cremated in his Berbice hometown Wednesday before a mammoth crowd of mourners, yesterday afternoon gathered his ashes from the crematorium.

Son, Dr. Cheddi Jagan Jnr. told the Chronicle members of the People's Progressive Party (PPP) also helped to collect the powdery remains of the body from the pyre on which it was burnt between stacks of wood and coconut shells.

The process lasted some two hours and Jagan said it was likely the ashes may be scattered in the country's three main rivers, the Essequibo, Demerara and Berbice.

Sources said a decision on what to do with the ashes will be made by the family.

Dr. Jagan Jnr. returned to Georgetown with sister Nadira Jagan-Brancier, uncle Mr. Derek Jagan, cousin Dr. Clive Jagan and four party members after landing in a Kayman Sankar Aviation company aircraft at the Ogle airstrip, East Coast Demerara.

The PPP officials accompanying the late President's relatives were Agriculture Minister and Leader of the House, Mr. Reepu Daman Persaud, Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Feroze Mohamed, Presidential Advisor, Mr. Navin Chandarpal and party Executive Secretary, Mr. Donald Ramoutar.

They arrived at Ogle at around 6:15 p.m. after spending all afternoon in Berbice.

Dr. Jagan was cremated at a site in the Babo John cemetery at Port Mourant, Berbice before massive crowds all around the seashore area.

People from all over the country and of all ages and races waited hours in sweltering sun for the arrival of the corpse and stood steadfastly watching the last rites even under a sudden heavy downpour.

Throughout the night, guards kept close watch over the smouldering pyre, lit by his son and daughter at about 1:10 p.m. Wednesday.

Thousands viewed the late President's body which lay in State in Georgetown and Albion Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and up to 8:00 a.m. Wednesday.

The cremation was delayed by a day to accommodate huge crowds which gathered at the Albion Sports Complex ground for the viewing.

The decision followed incidents at the ground Monday night during which immediate family members, other relatives, friends and concerned citizens had to link hand to form...[fax transmission unclear].

Tuesday and Wednesday were declared national holidays as a result of the massive national outpouring of sadness over the death of Dr. Jagan, hailed as 'father of the nation.'

The late Head of State, who led this country's fight for independence from colonial rule and was wrapping up his first term in office as President since the first free and fair elections in 28 years here in October 1992, died at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, United States on March 6, after suffering a serious heart attack at his Georgetown State House official resident on the night of February 14.