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Mourning across party lines
Sudhir Mahto’s Funeral Today

Jamshedpur, Jan. 23: Senior JMM leader Sudhir Mahto (58) died after suffering a massive heart attack while returning to Jamshedpur from a wedding reception in Ghatshila last night.

The former deputy chief minister, who fell ill in his SUV around 10.20pm, was rushed to Indian Copper Complex (ICC) Works Hospital at Maubhandar. But the doctors failed to save him. His body was sent to Tata Main Hospital (TMH) in an ambulance around 11.45pm.

He is survived by his wife and four daughters.

Mahto’s nephew Laltu Mahto, secretary of JMM’s East Singhbhum district unit, said the funeral would take place tomorrow after the former deputy chief minister’s eldest daughter Sujya returned from Baroda in Gujarat, where she is studying, this evening.

Mahto, the younger brother of slain JMM leader Nirmal Mahto, had gone to Maubhandar near Ghatshila to attend the marriage reception of Jharkhand Copper Majdoor Union’s general secretary Devi Prasad Mukherjee’s son. JMM legislator from Ghatshila Ramdas Soren and his Bahragora counterpart Bidyut Varan Mahto were also present at the function.

Mahto left after an hour along with the two MLAs, who were heading back to Jamshedpur in their own SUVs. According to sources, the senior politician, who was accompanied by relative Sanjit Mahto and bodyguards in the car, suddenly experienced pain in his chest.

“He started feeling unwell soon after sitting in the SUV and belched twice before becoming senseless. I quickly drove him to the hospital, but the doctors could not revive him,” said the driver, Sambhu.

Transport minister Champai Soren, JMM MLAs Ramdas Soren and Bidyut Varan Mahto, Jamshedpur West Congress legislator Banna Gupta and several JMM functionaries were present at TMH when Mahto’s body was wheeled in to the emergency ward. The body was kept there for sometime before being shifted to the morgue.

Politicians, cutting across party lines, trooped to Nirmal Mahto’s samadhi at Uliyan, Kadma, today to mourn the death. Among the visitors were food processing minister Simon Marandi, former chief minister Arjun Munda, senior BJP leader Saryu Roy, BJP state spokesperson Amarpreet Singh Kale, JVM MP Ajoy Kumar and senior Congress leader Rajesh Shukla.

Munda said the senior JMM leader’s absence would be always felt. “Mahto was a seasoned politician, who mixed well with people. He was like my elder brother who came across as a very good person,” he added.

Chief minister Hemant Soren was also supposed to visit Mahto’s residence today. But the plan was later changed and he will come tomorrow with JMM supremo and his father Shibu Soren to attend the last rites, which will be performed with state honour.

“Sudhir Mahto is a great leader, who was committed to work for the growth of Jharkhand,” Hemant said while condoling his death in Ranchi.

Mahto, described by many as a jovial person with a tough exterior, started rising as a political figure after brother Nirmal’s death in a gun attack in 1987. But his journey was one of struggle as he fought tirelessly for a separate state from 1988 till 2000.

“Sudhirda never allowed disappointment to stay with him for long. He was always there for people in distress. Such qualities are rare in high-stature politicians like him,” said Prasun Das of Uliyan.