| Family members and neighbours try to console the grieving mother of Subhankar after the hearse reached the Saha residence. Picture by Himangshu Ranjan Deb
Dinhata, July 31: Thousands of people came out on the streets this afternoon to bid a mournful farewell to Subhankar Saha, the Jadavpur University student who died in a trekking accident in Purulia last week.
The town virtually shut down by the time Subhankar's body, accompanied by his uncle Alok Saha and two of his batchmates from his university, arrived about 1.30 pm today.
The two institutions where he had studied, Gopalnagar High School and Sonidevi Jain High School, suspended classes at 11 am today as a mark of respect for Subhankar. Other schools, too, closed early to condole the death of one of the brightest students of the town.
Even shops and other establishments remained either shut or partially open as students, government officials, bank employees, lawyers and housewives gathered in silent processions before Subhankar's house in Sahapalli.
The silence was splintered by the wailing of Shankar Saha, Subhankar's father, as soon as the hearse entered the lane leading to the house. However, Subhankar's mother, in a state of deep shock ever since she heard about the death of her only son, was completely silent in her grief.
Subhankar's younger sister, Mausumi, lost consciousness at the doorstep of their house. Subhankar had last been home in June and today, the coffin bearing his remains was not taken inside the house. The hearse drove straight off to the burning ghat at Rathabari after stopping in front of the Saha residence for a couple of minutes.
'We wanted to spare his parents the pain of watching their son's dead body for too long,' said Surendra Kumar Rathi, a neighbour.
'They are anyway completely drained both mentally and physically,' Rathi added.
'The entire town has come here today; people stayed away from their daily activities as we all knew Subhankar and he was an example for other young men in the town to follow,' said Shibu Mukherjee, another neighbour.
After the hearse reached the Dinhata bypass checkpost, a large number of youths on motorcycles escorted the vehicle to Sahapalli. The street was lined by young men and women holding up placards with slogans bidding their favourite Baptu (Subhankar's pet name) the last farewell.
'We in the administration are shocked at the untimely death of a brilliant student and someone who enjoyed life so much,' said subdivisional officer Kajal Bandyopadhyay.
'Even though the police is yet to determine whether it was an accident or otherwise, we are all totally devastated at his sudden death,' said Trinamul Congress MLA from Dinhata, Ashok Mondal.
Subhankar had gone off to the trekking tour to Purulia with his friends from the university without telling his family. He had instead told them that he was going to Digha with four friends.