Cardinal Telesphore P Toppo performs the last rites of Beni Ekka in Ranchi on Wednesday. (Hardeep Singh)
Beni Ekka, a jesuit priest who has served as the vice chancellor of Kolhan University and the director of XISS, died in Ranchi on Tuesday. He was 65.
Father Ekka, who spent his last days in Khunti’s Maranghada village, was buried at the Kantatoli cemetery on Wednesday after a funeral mass conducted at the chapel of St Xavier’s College. Cardinal Telesphore P. Toppo conducted the mass along with a group of priests that included Bishop Charles Soreng of Hazaribagh.
Ekka, who was born on January 15, 1947 in Nayatoli village in undivided Ranchi, had not been keeping well for quite sometime prior to his demise. On Tuesday, he complained of chest pain and was rushed to Manresa House in Ranchi where he died before any medical help could be provided to him.
A St Xavier’s College alumnus, Ekka read theology and pursued a course in social studies at Delhi’s JNU before starting his career as a mentor at his alma mater (St Xavier’s) in 1981.
Later, he was appointed as the director of XISS in the late 1990s and continued on the post for more than a decade. When Kolhan University was carved out in 2009 Ekka was offered the honour of being its founder vice chancellor, a post which he held for little over a year.
Father Nicholas Tete, principal of St Xavier’s College, who attended the funeral mass, remembered Ekka as a “talented son of the soil who would always be remembered for his academic excellence, innovative ideas, leadership qualities and tremendous energy for work”.
“I was his student at St Xavier’s College. Though, he was pretty strict with academics, he was always there for us when we wanted a friend, philosopher and guide,” said S.S. Akhtar, registrar of Kolhan University, Akhtar represented the varsity at the funeral mass.
Former Union minister and local MP Subodh Kant Sahay, in a condolence message, also mourned the death of Ekka.
Sahay described Ekka as an academic who took education to a new height with his modern outlook in his message.
He claimed that Ekka’s death had left a void that could not be easily filled.
The MP sent two representatives — Anadi Brahma and Deepak Lal — for the funeral mass on his behalf.
Others present during the funeral were Ranchi mayor Ramo Khalko and former chief secretary of Jharkhand Shiv Basant.