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Journey's end in coffin's wait

The glimmer of hope since Tuesday evening faded on Wednesday afternoon. A flash on television in an electronics shop off Dum Dum Park market brought in the news ' Ashis Ghosh Roy was dead, taking the toll in the Srinagar blast to seven.

The 56-year-old, who had won accolades from the President for his role in disaster management with GSI, died at SMHS Hospital in Srinagar on Wednesday afternoon of splinter injuries.

That was around 4.30 pm, some 15 hours after his wife Kaberi had died in the blast and barely a few hours after elder son Anindya had managed to fly into the Valley with his uncle Dipak Ghosh Roy.

Ashis's body, however, was not among the six flown in by Indian Air Force flight AN 32 to Dum Dum airport around 5.50 pm on Wednesday.

For those accompanying the dead and waiting to receive the bodies for the final journey back to Dum Dum Park, the ordeal had just begun. It took over three hours before the airport authorities released the bodies after receiving the necessary documents, including the no-objection certificates and the death certificates with the names spelt right.

'While receiving the bodies, we suddenly found that the names of almost all had been misspelt. Then the death certificates had not arrived. Finally, it was with the help of Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and tourism minister Manab Mukherjee that the corrected documents reached the airport,' said Debasish Bhattacharya, a relative of victim Sandip Bhattacharya.

Shampa Dutta, sister of injured Sambhu Dutta, said: 'We have been waiting from noon. We were told to go back and return in the afternoon. We came again at 2.30, and we're still waiting to take my brother home.'

Partha Pratim Chowdhury arrived with a bandage on his head and hands. Relative Bijoyshree Chakraborty said they would take him to a private hospital in Dhakuria.

Late at night, as the convoy carrying the bodies trundled in, many at Dum Dum Park broke into tears. But the wait for Ashis's body will spill over on to Thursday.

On Tuesday, four of Ashis's family members, including his brother-in-law Sandip and his wife Chhaya, died in the blast, while the Ghosh Roys lost the third of their four brothers on Wednesday. And Dum Dum Park lost two of its old-timers, including Ashis's childhood friend Subir Das Majumdar's wife Purabi.

But even before the death news hit Dum Dum Park, local school Krishnapur Adarsha Vidyamandir, where Ashis had grown up with Subir, shut down for the day. Even the local market did not open.

For some, it brought back memories of another tragedy, way back in 1978, when five people from the locality died in a bus accident on their way back from Ganga Sagar mela.

'We had cremated our neighbours then. We'll do it again,' rued Sambhu Dey.

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