A video of Smriti Irani being a pallbearer for her party coworker, who was shot dead in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi on Saturday, has gone viral. Surendra Singh, former village head of Baraulia village and a close aide of BJP leader Smriti Irani, was shot by unidentified assailants at his residence last week. The incident took place just days after Smriti Irani won the Lok Sabha elections from the Amethi parliamentary constituency.

As Smriti Irani turned pallbearer for her aide, the social media came out in big numbers to support her and call her a symbol of women empowerment. Journalist Pallavi Ghosh said, “Best symbol of true women empowerment… To those who don’t understand, many women aren’t allowed to even carry the arthi… I wasn’t…”

Smriti Irani pallbearer for aide, picture goes viral on social media

Many commentators said this picture is ‘worth a thousand words.’ No doubt this image sends out an extremely powerful message, that women should break the shackles of patriarchy and write a new definition of women empowerment. In India for centuries only male members have been allowed to be pallbearers as per the tradition, but Smriti Irani doing so will most definitely start a new conversation.

Women have had to battle to have the right to attend funerals of loved ones in India.

“It’s really unfortunate India lost its brave child Surendra Singh. People of Amethi elected the right MP hope things wud get better for the Constituency. @smritiirani is an inspiration for every woman,” said another one.

Smriti Irani AmethiAnother Twitter user Geetika Swami said, “Union Minister Smriti Irani gives shoulder to BJP leader Surendra Singh today in Amethi after he was shot dead. It’s the sheer humility and kindness which wins hearts where arrogance and power fails.”

On receiving the news of the murder, Irani air dashed to Amethi to be with the family and spent two hours condoling them. By shouldering the pall of her slain assistant, Smriti Irani not just sent a strong message out to daughters and women who have traditionally been denied the opportunity of accompanying the deceased to the cremation but has also revealed the human face of governance. Through this gesture, she has demonstrated that power and pelf does not necessarily have to be on a pedestal. Her simple gesture is one that shows empathy and grief more than a thousand words could have. It also was an effective way to demonstrate to the people from her constituency who had just elected her in that she would consider them family.

“I have taken an oath before Surendra Singh ji’s family — the one who fired and the one who ordered it — even if I have to go to Supreme Court to get the culprits a death sentence, we will knock the doors of the court,” she was quoted saying in The Hindustan Times.  “On May 23, I got a political message publicly — Amethi ko pyar se sambhalna (please take care of Amethi with love). I want to tell the person who sent this message that I have received the message loud and clear,” she said.

Picture Credit: IndiaTimes

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