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Thousands Mourn Popular Indian Politician, Actress

Supporters of India's Tamil Nadu state's former Chief Minister Jayaram Jayalalithaa pay tributes near her photograph outside their party office in Mumbai, India, Dec. 6, 2016.

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in southern India Tuesday to pay respect to Jayaram Jayalalithaa, an immensely popular politician who died Monday at the age of 68.

Jayalalithaa rose to prominence as an actress who appeared in more than 150 Tamil-language movies, but since the early 1980s was focused on her political work, including multiple terms as the highest elected official in Tamil Nadu state.

"Jayalalithaa ji's connect with the citizens, concern for welfare of the poor, the women and marginalized will always be a source of inspiration," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

He joined mourners Tuesday in the city of Chennai where Jayalalithaa's body lay in a public hall draped in the Indian flag.

The government in Tamil Nadu declared seven days of mourning to honor the woman known as Amma, or mother.

In the days before her death, crowds gathered at the hospital in Chennai where she had been admitted in September with a fever and dehydration. She died after undergoing surgery following a heart attack Sunday night.