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Last rites performed far from home

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OUR CORRESPONDENT Siliguri Published 17.08.08, 12:00 AM

Siliguri, Aug. 17: The last rites of Subash Ghisingh’s wife Dhanmaya were performed at Siliguri Kiranchandra Crematorium on the banks of the Mahananda this afternoon.

Mohan and Sagar, along with their father, the GNLF chief, and nearly 500 supporters from the hills and plains were present at the burning ghat.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha had refused to allow the body to be taken to the hills for the funeral after Ghisingh’s wife breathed her last here yesterday.

The body was brought down to Sainik Puri near Khaprail from Zero Point near Kurseong after the Morcha blocked the entry points to the hills.

“We came back around 4pm when we heard that the Morcha supporters would not let us enter Kurseong. We came back from Zero Point,” said Deepak Limbu, Dhanmaya’s nephew.

“We had police escort and if we wanted to, we could have reached the hills. But his son (Mohan) was not in a state of mind to go through all the trouble and decided to perform the last rites in Siliguri,” he said.

GNLF supporters and Ghisingh’s relatives from Naxalbari, Changa and Panighata in the plains and Mirik, Manju and Darjeeling in the hills poured in.

They had come in around 15 vehicles to Limbu’s house to offer flowers and khadas.

The district administration, which was not ready to take any chances, had deployed around 20 policemen in Khaprail.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today said in Phansidewa after an official programme: “It is very unfortunate that apparently because of the objection from Morcha supporters, the body could not be taken to her hometown.”

Balkrishna Sharma, the Naxalbari branch president of the GNLF, said the party had no intention to retaliate against what the Morcha did yesterday. “We want to pay our respects and we will do it here,” he said.

Prakash Ghisingh of Manju, too, spoke on similar lines. “Initially, we thought that the body would go first to Manju where the family used to live and the last rites would be performed there. But when we came to know that the body would not be allowed to enter the hills, we came down,” the GNLF supporter said.

At 11.50am, the body left Sainik Puri and a procession with 14 vehicles snaked its way to the crematorium. It was escorted by a police van and a jeep.

Gopal Lama, the deputy director of tourism (north Bengal), A.B. Thapa, a former councillor of Darjeeling Sadar-II, B.L. Subba, the general secretary of the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh’s Siliguri branch were among those who were in the procession.

Ghisingh had been present at the burning ghat since 11.15 this morning. He had not visited Sainik Puri.

The body reached the crematorium at 12.40pm. Ghisingh then came out from his vehicle and sat in front of the body with Limbu and A.B. Thapa and watched his sons perform the rituals.

At around 1.15pm, when the body was pushed into the furnace, he started moving towards his vehicle.

“I have nothing to tell you, as it is the dastoor (custom) to keep mum today,” Ghisingh told reporters who had assembled near his car, which made its way to his current refuge —the inspection bungalow of the irrigation department at Tinbatti.

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