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Mamata proposes funeral in Kolkata,Manna Dey’s angry family snubs her

Singer’s son-in-law claims West Bengal CM made a nasty comment,said ‘we don’t want ashes’.

Written by Express News Service | Bangalore | Published: October 25, 2013 5:20:38 am

Singer’s son-in-law claims West Bengal CM made a nasty comment,said ‘we don’t want ashes’.</i? As people mourned the death of veteran singer Manna Dey Thursday politics was playing out in the background,with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee making a desperate bid to bring the body to Kolkata for last rites with state honours. His family,however,refused,preferring to let the veteran singer rest next to his wife in Bangalore. “We received four phone calls from the Chief Minister of West Bengal to send the body to Kolkata for last rites. As the funeral procession was heading to the crematorium we were told by the protocol officer of the Karnataka government that there was a request from West Bengal to stop the proceedings and send the body to Kolkata,” Jnan Ranjan Deb,son-in-law of Dey,said after the funeral. “In the end,I said we are sorry we cannot bring the body to Kolkata but we will bring the ashes and the Chief Minister made a nasty comment that ‘we don’t want ashes’. An educated Chief Minister would not have said that,” he said. “We are grateful to the Karnataka government for organising a state funeral in very little time,” Deb said. Family members of Dey said the West Bengal government was trying to use his death for politics when “he was never in politics”. “For the five-and-a-half months that he was in hospital we never heard from the West Bengal government. Thousands of people from Kolkata and Bengal reached out,governments of many states,including Gujarat,reached out but not the West Bengal government. At his death they want him,” Deb said. The family is particularly cut up because the West Bengal police interrogated the singer while he was in ICU in connection with a complaint it filed about a relative siphoning off nearly Rs 30 lakh from his bank account in Kolkata. “They never did anything about it until we approached the courts and then they interrogated him in ICU,” Deb said. Soon after news of the death,which occurred at 3.40 am,broke,a West Bengal government team that included MP Kalyan Banerjee and two ministers arrived in Bangalore and tried to convince Dey’s daughter Shumita and Deb for a funeral in Kolkata,said officials at Narayana Hrudayalaya,the hospital where the singer was under treatment. “We were told a delegation arrived from West Bengal in the morning and tried to convince the family on behalf of the West Bengal government to send the body to Kolkata. The daughter of Manna Dey and his son-in-law were inclined to perform the last rites in Bangalore because his wife,whom he loved a lot,was cremated in the city,” K S Vasuki,general manager (healthcare relations) at the hospital,said. An angry Shumita told reporters: “When he was ailing and money was siphoned off from his bank account (allegedly by his nephew),we wrote several times to the Chief Minister and the Commissioner of Police but no one paid heed. I finally wrote a stiff letter to the commissioner but there was no reply to that as well. Our friends and relatives here stood by us in crisis. There is no point taking the body to Kolkata.” Kolkata Police Commissioner Surajit Kar Purakayastha said he would have to check records before commenting. Mamata Banerjee,who is on a trip to Darjeeling Hills,told reporters she had told the singer to stay at her residence but he refused. “He had difficulty climbing stairs. I told him my house is on the ground floor. My mother is no more. He could come over and stay. But he declined,” she said. Another reason for choosing Bangalore was that Dey treated the city as his home and did not travel to Kolkata even to receive a state award,which was finally conferred on him when Mamata Banerjee traveled to Bangalore in April. The body of Dey was kept briefly at Ravindra Kalakshetra before it was cremated at Hebbal. Around 150 people,including Kalyan Banerjee and other delegates from West Bengal,attended the funeral. After a successful career in Hindi and Bengali film music spanning 40 years,Dey retired to Bangalore at the turn of the century to stay at the Kalyan Nagar house of Shumita and Jnan Ranjan Deb. The singer and his wife Sulochana Kumaran led a low-key life here and kept to themselves. People who knew him,however,say he loved to talk and always had time for friends. “He led a simple life and had no airs. When fans requested him to inaugurate a puja or an event,he readily agreed,” said Alok Biswas,who runs an event production company in Bangalore. Biswas,who had known Dey since 2001,organised his last concert in the city three years ago. “His wife was seriously ill at the time but he insisted we defer the event,not cancel it. Such was his commitment to music. He sang right till the end of his days,” he said. Dey was extremely attached to his wife of 58 years and when she died of cancer last year,it set him back physically and mentally,said Runu Roy,president of Bengali Association,Bangalore. “The passing of Mannada has left a huge vacuum in our lives,” said Tapash Chakraborty,a hospitality consultant who knew Dey well. To his friends,Dey was a man of exceptional warmth. He was a boisterous Bengali who loved good food,rarely minced words and gave impromptu performances when inspiration struck. Chakraborty remembers an instance when,after a hearty Bengali meal,Dey demanded a harmonium and regaled friends. “He was childlike and extremely fond of authentic Bengali fare — luchi,ilish mach and aloo posto,” Chakraborty said. West Bengal govt regrets not getting the body

Kolkata: The West Bengal government expressed regret at not being able to cremate the body of Manna Dey in Kolkata. “We are very sad not being able to perform the last rites of the singer here,which we wanted,” senior state minister Subrata Mukherjee said.

Soon after the death news broke,the Chief Minister urged Dey’s daughter to bring the body here,he said. “But we are deprived of that. The singer was born in Kolkata and was essentially a Bengali.”

In a Facebook post later,Mamata Banerjee said she spoke to his family to bring the body by a special flight to Kolkata for keeping it here for at least 24 hours to pay last respects and then perform the last rites in Bangalore,as desired by the family. “But this did not happen.” PTI

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