VHP leader Ashok Singhal was cremated here on Wednesday, with thousands paying their last respects and senior VHP colleagues calling for a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya in his memory. Cries of "Jai Shri Ram" rent the air to honour Singhal, who died at 89 a day earlier in a Gurgaon hospital following heart and kidney ailments, as the funeral pyre was lit at the Nigam Bodh Ghat.
Speaking on the occasion, Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders said the best way to pay homage to Singhal would be to build a grand Ram temple at the site where the Babri Masjid stood till it was razed in 1992.
"The architect of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and the king of Hindu hearts passed away without seeing a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya," senior VHP leader Pravin Togadia said. "Singhal's dream will come true when parliament passes a legislation to build the temple," he added. The view was echoed by union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who as a lawyer represented deity 'Ram Lalla' in the Ayodhya Ram temple title suit case.
Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah said: "Ashok Singhal's loyalty to Hindu society will always be remembered." Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the thousands who poured into the RSS headquarters at Jhandewalan in central Delhi to pay their final homage to Singhal. Others included, besides the envoys of Bhutan and Nepal, central ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Manohar Parrikar and Uma Bharti as well as Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
Later, when his flower-decked body was taken from there to the cremation ground, supporters lined the streets in large numbers and showered flowers on the funeral procession, the VHP said. Singhal was one of the key architects of the mass campaign that ended up destroying the 16th century Babri mosque on December 6, 1992, triggering widespread communal riots.