Monday, 30th October 2017

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No homecoming this

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By RAJ KUMAR in Ranchi
  • Published 29.11.08

Ranchi, Nov. 28: It was 1.35pm. Numb with pain, friends and family members of Malayesh Banerjee watched IC 809 touch down at Birsa Munda Airport. They knew it had arrived.

Colleagues Ketan Parekh and Saurav Kumar, and family friend Prasenjit Kumar were accompanying the body of the 27-year-old architect, killed in one of the worst terror attacks in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Malayesh Banerjee's father Madhabendra (top) and mother Mridula break down as the body of the 27-year-old architect arrives in Ranchi from Mumbai on Friday. Pictures by Prashant Mitra

Father Madhabendra Banerjee — the head of chemistry department at Ranchi University — perhaps for the first time fumbled for an answer when someone asked where the coffin was and how it would be taken home.

As the others wondered what to do, an airport employee directed them to an ambulance parked near the side gate on the premises.

Soon, a red and white trolley carrying the black coffin appeared. Madhabendra broke down. The coffin was put in ambulance. It left the airport at 2.02pm and reached the Banerjee residence at Old Commissioner’s Compound, behind Lionel Edward Bengali Boys’ School, 20 minutes later.

For a moment, there was silence.

As the ambulance stopped, a group of hysterical women rushed towards the vehicle. They were followed by an inconsolable Mridula, Malayesh’s mother. A family friend said doctors had had to give sedatives to soothe her frayed nerves.

After a half-an-hour stay, Malayesh’s body was taken on its final journey — to the Harmu crematorium.

“It was a heartrending scene. Madhabendra could barely walk to the pyre. Finally, Malayesh’s maternal uncle, Pradeep Banerjee, had to complete the last rites,” said a neighbour.

“This is the most unfortunate day of my life. I am lighting the pyre of the boy who once played on my lap. I wish I could challenge destiny,” Pradeep told The Telegraph.

Colleague Ketan said that Malayesh would not have died had he stayed a little longer at office.

“He took the bullet hardly 20 minutes after he left our office at Nariman Point. He was rushed to hospital, but could not be saved,” he said.

The Bishop Westcott Boys’ School in Namkum, Malayesh’s alma mater, today mourned his death. Students observed silence for two minutes and prayed that his soul may rest in peace.

Several dignitaries, including former state chief minister Arjun Munda, visited the Banerjee residence later in the day to condole his death.

PUCL state vice-president Tridib Ghosh also sent a condolence message to the bereaved Banerjee family.