India pays tribute to Nelson Mandela

New Delhi, Dec 6 : India Friday paid rich tributes to anti-apartheid hero and former South African president Nelson Mandela, who passed away Thursday after a prolonged illness.Both houses of parliament were adjourned for the day after paying homage to the Nobel laureate, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh describing him as a "giant among men" and "a true Gandhian".

President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari also condoled the death of the iconic fighter for justice whose 27 years in prison turned the anti-apartheid fight into a global campaign.

India announced a five-day national mourning. The Congress leadership too condoled the death.

The government said a "very high level delegation from India" would attend the funeral, likely Dec 14.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said: "His death is a loss for South Africa and India."

Mandela, who died in Johannesburg Friday after a prolonged illness, was recipient of Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award.

In the Lok Sabha, members across the spectrum remembered the South African leader as an inspiring figure.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi said it was "as though we have lost a beloved father".

"He redefined the meaning of courage and sacrifice," she said, adding that his courage was "superhuman".

Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj said Mandela struggled against apartheid and served long years in jail and "still he did not have a frown on his face".

Speaker Meira Kumar recalled her visit to the prison cell where Mandela was confined for 27 years.

"The visit was like a pilgrimage," she said.

In Kolkata, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said his lifelong struggle and sacrifice will be the source of inspiration for generations.

"His passing away is a huge loss to humanity," said Banerjee.

In Dharamsala, Tibetan prime minister-in-exile Lobsang Sangay said Mandela's struggle for justice gave all people hope that justice does prevail in the end.

In Mumbai, the Indian film fraternity saluted Mandela for being "a man of will, belief and perseverance" and "torch bearer of peace and harmony".

--IANS (Posted on 06-12-2013)

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