The controversial state funeral accorded to veteran Bollywood actress Sridevi last month, was under the instructions of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, a RTI query has revealed on Friday.
RTI activist Anil Galgali had sought to know from the General Administration Department’s Protocol Department, which comes under Fadnavis, as to who had the power to authorize the state funeral for Sridevi and past recipients of it.
In its response, the department informed that the discretionary powers to grant a funeral with full state honours was vested with the Chief Minister and it was not related with the conferment of any national honours or Padma honours on the deceased personality, he said.
“With regards to the full state honours for the late Amma Yangar Ayyappan, known as the famed actress Sridevi, verbal ordered were received from the CMO on February 25, 2018 and conveyed to the Mumbai Suburban District Collector and Mumbai Police Commissioner the following day to do the needful,” Galgali said, quoting the RTI reply.
Asked the reasons for filing the RTI query, the activist said that it was to clear the confusion created on who is entitled to a state funeral and who is authorized to permit it.
Sridevi died in her room in Hotel Jemeirah Emirates Towers due to “accidental drowning” on February 24, and was later honoured by a state funeral on February 28, leading to massive debates on social media questioning the measure.
“Among the speculation was that state funeral can be accorded to a person who is conferred with a National award or a Padma honour, but now a new information has come to light that it actually falls within the CM’s discretion,” Galgali said.
Besides Sridevi, 40 other eminent personalities were given a funeral with full state honours between June 22, 2012-March 26, 2018, according to the RTI reply.
Prominent among them were former Chief Ministers and Union Ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh and A.R. Antulay, Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray, Vipassana Guru Satyanarayan Goenka, Dawoodi Bohra spiritual head Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, former Deputy Chief Minister R.R. Patil, farmers leader and ex-MP Sharad Joshi, Marathi literatteur Mangesh Padgaonkar, former Union Minister Jaywantiben Mehta, senior journalist Muzaffar Hussain, and eminent cardiologist B. K. Goyal.