GEORGE TOWN - Some 500 family members and friends of three of the five men killed in a police shootout gave them an elaborate send-off with a funeral procession accompanied by drums and firecrackers.
The three - N. Rakan, 25, M. Suresh, 25, and R. Ramesh, 27 - were cremated in separate incinerators at the Batu Gantung crematorium at 5.40pm yesterday.
Earlier during the last rites, some family members were seen sprinkling rice into the three coffins as they wept openly and circled around the bodies three times.
The funeral procession - to the beats of Indian and Chinese drums as well as a band - had earlier converged in Jalan Yeap Chor Ee before heading to the crematorium, punctuated with the sounds of firecrackers.
The three bodies were sent off in Mercedes-Benz hearses, two of which bore giant floral wreaths depicting the Hindu swastika. The other hearse had a wreath designed in the letter "N" with a small swastika sign and another resembling twin gold coins.
Motorcyclists, revving their engines and throwing flower petals on the road, rode alongside the hearses as they weaved their way through the traffic towards the crematorium.
The grand procession brought traffic to a standstill in Jalan Yeap Chor Ee, Jalan Bukit Gambir and Jalan Tun Dr Awang, watched by curious motorists.
The two other men who were also killed in the shootout - J. Gobinath, 31, and M. Gobinath, 21 - were cremated and buried respectively at a Hindu cemetery in Jalan Siram, Butterworth.
J. Gobinath's hearse - accompanied by another vehicle bearing a "04" banner and a picture of the deceased with the words Perai Gobi - arrived at the cemetery at 4pm, heralded by the release of firecrackers at the entrance. About 100 family members and friends attended the funeral.
Some two hours later, the hearse of M. Gobinath - accompanied by a lorry - arrived with more than 200 people.
A floral wreath designed with the word "GOBI" together with a picture banner bearing the titles of "Gobi Butterworth" and "King of the Ring" as well as a message "We will miss u 4ever Bro" were seen on the hearse.
About 15 people were later seen carrying M. Gobinath's coffin into the cemetery to be buried. A lorry with a "04" flower decoration was also spotted.