As the bodies of two CRPF personnel killed in the Pulwama terror attack, Bablu Santra and Sudip Biswas, arrived at Kolkata airport, thousands of people, including military officers, political leaders and police officers, waited to pay their respects.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee led a candle march from Hazra crossing in south Kolkata to the statue of Mahatma Gandhi on Mayo Road. She was accompanied by TMC leaders such as Firhad Hakim, Aroop Biswas, Chandrima Banerjee and Dola Sen, all sporting black badges. BJP leaders escorted the remains of Santra from the airport to his residence in Chokkashi. TMC leaders including Rajib Banerjee, Arup Roy and Nirmal Majhi were already in Chokkashi. Both parties promised to stand by the side of the bereaved families.
“Sometimes, the country is in crisis and it is our duty to get together. But during these situations, we will have to take into confidence people of all castes, creeds and religions. Terrorists are terrorists. They don’t have any religion. Terrorists must be condemned as terrorists,” said Mamata, after finishing her rally.
The bodies of the CRPF personnel, which were brought in an Indian Air Force aircraft, reached the airport at 3.15 pm. They were placed on a raised platform, allowing the crowd to pay their respect. Following this, the remains of Bablu Santra reached Chokkashi at 6.35 pm.
The six-kilometre stretch from Kona Expressway to Santra’s residence saw people lined along both sides of the road, many of them throwing garlands and flowers at the truck carrying the coffin.
Keeping aside political differences, TMC and BJP leaders were seen standing together at a small football field near Santra’s house, which was barricaded for a gun salute. People were seen perched precariously on terraces of houses and a local school to view the ceremony.
Leaders of political parties paid tribute and met the family members who were there.
“This is not a time to say something. Only that we are with the family. We all stand together in condemning such an act of terrorism and a befitting reply should be given. How many more times will our mothers lose their sons like this?” said state Irrigation Minister Rajib Banerjee.
“We condemn the incident. We are with the family members at this tough hour. I am sure proper action will be taken against those responsible for such an act,” said Sayantan Basu, state BJP secretary.
The remains of Sudip Biswas were taken to his residence in Nadia. A large crowd gathered near the residence.
The Left Front took out a rally in the evening and condemned the Pulwama terror attack on security forces, among other things. Their march was supposed to begin at Esplanade and end at Hazra, but police authorities had denied permission for that route as the rally would have clashed with that of the TMC. Left leaders then re-routed the rally at several points in the city.