From the FPJ Archives: Nehru epoch comes to an end, world grieves for India's lost leader

On May 27, 1964, the death of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru quietly ushered in the end of an era. "Jawaharlal Nehru is dead. The 74-year-old Prime Minister who returned to New Delhi yesterday from a brief Dehra Dun holiday died of a heart attack at 2:00 pm in his official residence at Teen Murti Marg," read the somber front page of the Free Press Journal the next day.

News of Nehru's death was shared with the Lok Sabha by the then Minister for Steel. As FPJ reports, members broke down as wept as Shri Subramaniam in a choked voice said, "The Prime Minister is no more. The light is out." Parliament was immediately adjourned, the National Flags were lowered and the capital's normal activities ceased.

But with the India abruptly left without a Prime Minister, the administration also had other concerns to attend to. The Cabinet held an emergency meeting and later that day, President Radhakrishnan appointed Home Minister Gulzarilal Nanda as Nehru's successor, pending the election of a new leader.

His funeral and associated ceremonies saw, with "thousands of sobbing men and women filing past the body of their beloved leader" even as world leaders sent condolence messages and top officials from various countries were in attendance.

"Once again we come together in grief over the death of a great and beloved man - this time your own leader, Prime Minister Nehru," began a heartfelt note from US President Johnson to his Indian counterpart.

"My husband and my family join me in sending our deep and sincere sympathy to you and to the people of India in the irreparable loss which you have suffered," read a message from Queen Elizabeth.

Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev travelled to the Indian Embassy soon after the news broke to offer his condolences.

From the FPJ Archives: Nehru epoch comes to an end, world grieves for India's lost leader
From the FPJ Archives: Nehru epoch comes to an end, world grieves for India's lost leader

For the city of Bombay, it was a startling development, with many having glimpsed the PM only a week ago. The state government issued a black-bordered gazette notification declaring the next two days as public holidays even as the city observed a "spontaneous and complete hartal".

As per the FPJ reports, Mumbai University results were held back, a silent procession marched near Chowpatty and "thousands wept for the man of the masses".

From the FPJ Archives: Nehru epoch comes to an end, world grieves for India's lost leader

The Free Press Journal for its part paid tribute to Prime Minister Nehru with a montage of pictures, from his childhood to his later years at the helm of the Indian government.

Take a look:

From the FPJ Archives: Nehru epoch comes to an end, world grieves for India's lost leader
From the FPJ Archives: Nehru epoch comes to an end, world grieves for India's lost leader
From the FPJ Archives: Nehru epoch comes to an end, world grieves for India's lost leader

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