KOLKATA/KALIAGANJ — Thousands of people, including leaders from across political lines, paid a teary-eyed farewell to veteran Congress leader Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, whose mortal remains were consigned to flames with state honors Nov. 21.
Emotional scenes were witnessed through the day, particularly at Kaliaganj, where Dasmunsi's ancestral home is situated in West Bengal's Uttar Dinajpur district, as legions of mourners wept and shouted "Priya Dasmunsi amar rahe" and "Vandemataram," before the cremation at the Kaliaganj Bondor Crematorium late into the night.
An air of solemnity prevailed as the flower-bedecked coffin, wrapped in the tri-color, was taken out of the cortege and placed on a high platform by police personnel in a slow march.
The bugle played the last post before Dasmunsi was accorded a guard of honor and a gun salute.
The funeral pyre was lit by the leader's only son Priyabrata, with senior Congress stalwarts, including Opposition leader in the West Bengal assembly Abdul Mannan looking crestfallen. Dasmunsi's widow Deepa struggled to keep her composure.
In a strange coincidence, Dasmunsi had played a key role in renovating the crematorium.
In the morning, Dasmunsi's body was taken out of a Kolkata mortuary "Peace Haven," where it was kept after it was flown from Delhi Nov. 20 night, and put in a hearse.
The first stop was the West Bengal Pradesh Congress headquarters Bidhan Bhavan, where a huge number of party workers gathered to pay their last tributes.
State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Left Front chairman Biman Bose, Communist Party of India-Marxist state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra, and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Shamik Bhattacharya were among those who garlanded the body, as Deepa and Priyabrata stood close by.
The cortege then reached the Calcutta High Court, where Dasmunsi had enrolled as a lawyer.
Former city Mayor Bikash Bhattacharya was among hundreds of legal luminaries who turned up for a last glimpse of the former Union Minister.
The body was then taken to Dasmunsi's residence in South Kolkata's Rani Bhavani Road, where many of his family members and Congress workers assembled.
Many political heavyweights, who were politically baptized by Dasmunsi but later switched to other parties, came to pay their last respects.
Former Union Minister Sougata Ray, state BJP vice president Jai Prakash Majumdar, state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee and Power Minister Sovandeb Chatterjee belonged to this category.
In the afternoon, Dasmunsi's body was airlifted to Kaliaganj, where shops and business establishments remained closed, and buses and auto-rickshaws were off the roads.
People stood on both sides of the road, garlands in hand, as the cortege sped from the helipad to his ancestral home 'Dasmunsi Bhavan.'
The number of mourners, many of whom had patiently waited for hours, swelled by the minute and turned unmanageable.
Masses jostled for a last glimpse of the leader who died in Delhi Nov. 20 after spending nine years in hospital in a comatose or minimum conscious state following a stroke in 2008.
Similar heart-rending scenes were witnessed at Kaliaganj Congress office, and the party's Uttar Dinajpur district office in Raiganj, where the cortege halted for some time. Dasmunsi was a two-time Lok Sabha member from Raiganj.