Updated: September 21, 2016 12:10:45 am
IT’S RARE, if ever, that you come across non-religious slogans at Gangasagar. Deep in the south of West Bengal, Sagar Island on the delta where the Ganga, or Hooghly, flows into the Bay of Bengal, is a place known more for the Sagar mela that attracts thousands of pilgrims each winter.
Tuesday was different. Patiently waiting with Tricolours of varying sizes, hundreds of people from across the island spoke out together the moment they sighted an Air Force helicopter. “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”. The chopper carried the body of Sepoy Biswajit Gorai, one of the 18 soldiers killed in Sunday’s terror attack on an Army base camp in Uri, Kashmir.
Besides tens of locals, senior officers from the Army, state police, civil administration and political leaders were present at the helipad. The lane leading to their small home being too small for a vehicle to be steered through, officers carried the coffin to Gorais’ home, in Surjovrinda village near the helipad. The slain soldier’s family members – father Rabindranath Gorai, mother Rekha and sister Bulti – were too traumatised to leave home.
Biswajit’s mother and sister fainted at the sight of the coffin. The body was kept at their home for about 15 minutes and then taken for the last rites. Besides senior Army officers, West Bengal’s Fire and Emergency Services Minister Sovan Chatterjee, local MLA Bamkim Hazra and Superintendent of Police (South 24 Parganas) Sunil Kumar Choudhury were among hundreds of people present.
His brother Ranajit Gorai said, “I also wanted to get into the Army but was rejected due to the height criterion. After Chhotu (Biswajit) got through, he used to tease me jokingly – he often said he was the luckiest among us. I now wish it was me, and not him.”
Rana Biswas, a neighbour, said Biswajit was the family’s only earning member. “They do not know what will happen now,” Biswas said. In a distance, minister Sovan Chatterjee asked the local authorities to extend every possible help to the family.
Recalling that Sepoy Gorai had left the village for Uri exactly a month ago – on August 21 – Samir Paria, a friend, said, “He left with two handbags, and a smile. His parents and sister had come up to the main road to see him off. Now his coffin is being taken through the same lane.” This time, it seemed the whole island had come to see him off.
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