New Delhi, Dec.6: Indians mourned the death of South Africa’s anti-apartheid crusader and former President Nelson Mandela, who passed away on Thursday at the age of 95 after months of fighting a lung infection.
The illness dated back to the 27 years he spent in apartheid jails, including the notorious Robben Island penal colony.
In India, Mandela is highly revered for adopting methods of non-violence and peace to achieve his political objects against apartheid system, which were espoused by Mahatma Gandhi, leader of independence struggle.
A wave of public grief washed over New Delhi, as people woke up to hear about the loss of their inspirational hero.
Residents of area, named after Mandela in the national capital, were deeply moved and hailed the South African for his bravery.
“Though he passed away at the age of 95, we all pray that he should have lived longer. It is really a painful news story but yet at this moment we salute his heroic struggle for freedom from apartheid,” said a businessman, Antony.
The South African flag at the embassy in New Delhi was at half-mast on Thursday morning.
Mandela was elected as president in landmark all-race elections in 1994 and retired in 1999.
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, an honour he shared with F.W. de Klerk, the white Afrikaner leader who released from jail arguably the world’s most famous political prisoner.
As president, Mandela faced the monumental task of forging a new nation from the deep racial injustices left over from the apartheid era, making reconciliation the theme of his time in office.
The hallmark of Mandela’s mission was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which probed apartheid crimes on both sides of the struggle and tried to heal the country’s wounds. It also provided a model for other countries torn by civil strife.
In 1999, Mandela handed over power to younger leaders better equipped to manage a modern economy – a rare voluntary departure from power cited as an example to African leaders.
After retirement, he shifted his energies to battling South Africa’s AIDS crisis and the struggle became personal when he lost his only surviving son to the disease in 2005. (ANI)