[The funeral procession of Nehal Ahmed passing through Janata Dal (S) office in Malegaon. (ummid.com photo)]
Malegaon: Thousands of mourners paid their last respect to veteran socialist leader Nehal Ahmed and thronged his funeral procession on Monday late in the evening even as the departed soul was given the customary 21-gun salute by the local police who were led by Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) Sunil Kadasane and DYSP Rajmane.
One of the front leaders of Samyukta Maharashtra Movement, former minister, one of the founders of Janata Party and Janata Dal (Secular), MLA for more than 30 years, Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Maharashtra legislative assembly and the first Mayor of Malegaon, Nehal Ahmed died on Monday after a breif illness. He was 90.
The funeral procession of Nehal Ahmed started exactly at 09:00 pm from his MHB Colony residence. It passed through Old Mumbai-Agra Road, Ahmed Raza Road, Rafi Ahmed Qedwai Road and reached the Janata Dal (S) office at around 09:20 pm.
At party office where Nehal Ahmed sat for more than sixty years the funeral procession was stopped for few minutes as party workers showered flowers and rose petals over the Janaza and paid their last respect.
The funeral procession then passing through Mohammad Ali Road, Fateh Maidan and Sulaimani Chowk reached the Bada Qabristan at around 09:40 pm where ASP Sunil Kadasane laid the flower wrath and gave the customary 21-gun salute and buglers sounded the ceremonial Last Post for the departed leader.
Nehala Ahmed's younger brother Helal Ahmed led the funeral prayer immediately after this.
Earlier the local administration declared that Nehal Ahmed will be laid to rest with full state honour.
"Nehal Ahmed will be laid to rest with full state honours at Malegaon Bada Qabristan tonight at around 11:00 pm", SDO Malegaon Ajay More said while talking to ummid.com.
"We have already received the official communique from the state government regarding this and the preparations are on for the funeral of Nehal Ahmed with full state honours", he added.
Nehal Ahmed, the senior most socialist leader who participated in various socialist movements including the Maharashtra Movement, was ailing since last few weeks. He was shifted to a local hospital on Friday. After his condition deteriorated further the family took him to a hospital in Nashik.
"Saheb died at around 09:30 am in Nashik", Mustaqueem Dignity, his son in law said while talking to ummid.com.
Shops were shut and schools were closed after prayers as his mortal remains reached Malegaon at around 02:30 pm.
Mourners cutting across the religious and political lines lined up outside his MHB Colony residence to pay their last respects.
Former PWD Minister Chagan Bhujbal visited the Nashik hospital as soon as he was informed about the sad demise of Nehal Ahmed.
Dhule-Malegaon MP Subhash Bhamre, Minister Dada Bhuse, senior Congress leader Rohidas Patil, MP Kapil Patil, Janata Dal leader of Aurangabad Ajmal Khan, local MLA Asif Shaikh, Mayor Ibrahim Seth and a host of political and community leaders joined the mourners and offered condolences to the grieving family.
Born on May 22, 1926 to Maulana Mohammad Usman, President of Jamiat-e-Ulema Maharashtra and founder of Jamiatus Swalehat, Nehal Ahmed was also Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.
A socialist leader and political guru, who never compromised with the rules he set in his political career, sported black badge on his left shoulder till his last breath to protest the demolition of Babri Masjid.
Nehal Ahmed began his political career as Mazdoor Leader, won the municipal election and later assembly elections.
When Sharad Pawar became the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Nehal Ahmed was made the Labour Minister in his cabinet.
In 2001, when Malegaon Municipal Council was converted into a Corporation, Nehal Ahmed contested the civic election, led the Janata Dal (S) to a majority and became the First Mayor of Malegaon.
He also contested the Parliamentary Elections in 2009 but lost to BJP's Pratap Sonawane.