The Maharashtra government has ordered a state funeral and gun salute for the late actress

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In a heartwarming gesture that expresses its sense of loss and solidarity with Bollywood, the Maharashtra government has decided to give the late actress Sridevi a state funeral this afternoon. The decision was apparently taken by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and conveyed by him to Mumbai Police Commissioner Datta Padsalgikar who made all the arrangements.

No longer are state funerals the privileged farewells of current and former Presidents, Prime Ministers, Union ministers and State Chief Ministers. The laws have been changed so that a Chief Minister can now decide who will be given a state funeral depending on the stature of the deceased. The government takes into consideration the contribution made by the person to the state in various fields like politics, literature, law, science and arts. The Chief Minister takes a decision after consultation with other cabinet ministers.

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In Sridevi’s case, her huge body of work in Indian cinema is more than enough to entitle the late actress for a state funeral. Sridevi made her debut as a child artiste with the Tamil film Kandan Karunai in 1967 when she was just four years old. Since then, in her 51 years in cinema, Sridevi starred in numerous Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Malayalam and Kannada films. She was Bollywood’s first female superstar. The government of India awarded her the Padma Shri, the country’s fourth highest civilian accolade, for her contribution to the entertainment industry in 2013.

And so, Sridevi’s bier has been draped with the national flag while lying in state at the Celebration Sports Club in Lokhandwala. Later, when the body is taken to the Pawan Hans Crematorium at Vile Parle for the last rites, a senior police officer will remove the flag, fold it and hand it over to a family member with great solemnity. The Mumbai Police Band, dressed smartly in red and black, will play funeral music all the while. And finally, when the pyre is lit, Sridevi will be given a 13-gun salute by armed constables of the Mumbai Police specially drawn up for this duty. The entire bandobast for the funeral is undertaken by the police. Somewhere, despite her sudden and shocking end, ever the actress fond of the spotlight Sridevi must be smiling proudly at all the fuss that is being made around her.

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