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Kindness of Sushma touches all

Posted in S. Asia

Published on August 11, 2019 with No Comments

Condolences and tributes to the former Foreign Minister, came in from neighbouring Pakistan also.

Tributes for the former Union Minister have been pouring in from across the world. Among them is Amul, who also joined in to say goodbye to the strong leader and extraordinary orator. “Tribute to Sushmaji, respected lawyer and leader,” Amul wrote along with a black and white graphic of Sushma Swaraj.  Amul is the leading brand of milk products in India.

Many people have fond memories of former Minister for External Affairs of India Sushma Swaraj, who passed away in New Delhi late on Tuesday. Among them is the family of a youth, Hamid Ansari, who spent over six years in a Pakistani jail on espionage charge and was released on December 18, 2018. Hamid had gone missing in Pakistan on November 11, 2012.

“It was during this ordeal that Sushmaji went out of her way to help us in getting Hamid safely back home,” recalls his father, Nehal Ansari. “During the trying period, Sushmaji wrote as many as 96 officials letters to the Pakistani authorities regarding my son. She always responded positively to all our appeals for assistance and finally my son was freed with her intervention,” a grateful Nehal Ansari shared with a leading TV Channel in India. After hearing of her demise early, the Ansaris said they were “stunned”, but “Sushmaji will remain in our hearts forever” for all that she did for their son. Hamid described Sushma Swaraj was “like a mother” to him, and after his release, she counseled him to look ahead in life. Hamid said, “she will always remain alive in our hearts”.

A 27-year-old hearing impaired woman who was rescued from Pakistan and brought back to India after being stranded there for 15 years has paid a moving tribute to Sushma Swaraj.  Geeta, who currently lives in Indore and after she was brought back to India in October 2015, paid tributes to the late Minister in sign language. Called “India’s daughter” by Sushma Swaraj, Geeta had failed to find her family although many claimed to be her parents. Sushma Swaraj even tried to play a matchmaker for Geeta and sought marriage proposals for her.

Sushma Swaraj had a strong presence on Twitter and even turned the micro blogging site into a kind of helpline. People from all walks of life reached out to the minister for her help and she almost always replied to SOSs. Swaraj was also known for her witty replies. Her comebacks to certain tweeple who posted bizarre requests like those asking for help on their cars and refrigerators are now being reposted. Sushma Swaraj’s Mars tweet has even gone viral all over again.

The former foreign minister was cremated at Delhi’s Lodhi Road electric crematorium on Wednesday with full state honours. The last rites were performed by her daughter Bansuri Swaraj, as her husband Swaraj Kaushal stood beside her. Paying homage to former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday said she was like his sister, who always addressed him as anna [elder brother]”. In the House, Naidu read out an obituary reference saying: “She was a regular at family and cultural events at my residence for a long time. Every year, on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan, she used to tie rakhi on my hand. I will be missing this honour this year. I have lost a valuable sister in her demise, which is an irreparable loss to me.”

In a message, President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena called her a “true friend” of Sri Lanka, referring to her “immense contribution” to strengthen bilateral ties. “She has etched a remarkable stamp in politics and diplomacy, reaching out to people of all walks of life through her pragmatic and people-centred foreign policy outreach,” he said. Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih described Ms. Swaraj as “India’s daughter”. “Sad at the passing of @SushmaSwaraj . Our condolences to her loved ones, @PMOIndia and people of India. She was a great friend of the Maldives. She was truly India’s daughter and will be greatly missed,” he said in a tweet.

Speaker and former President Mohamed Nasheed tweeted: “I am so sad to hear of the passing of @SushmaSwaraj. She was undoubtedly the best among the very best of diplomats. She understood South Asia and how it relates to the rest of the world. With her passing, we have lost a good colleague and friend.”


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