Bangalore, Oct 24, 2013, DHNS: FInal journey: Shumita Deb pays her last respects to her father, legendary singer Manna Dey, at Ravindra Kalakeshtra on Thursday. DH Photo
Manna Dey’s younger daughter Shumita Deb, with whom he stayed in his last years in the City, lashed out at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her apathy towards the family.
Speaking to reporters at the Hebbal crematorium, she said the family rejected the offer made by Mamata to take the body to Kolkata and organise a grand farewell to the legendary singer, in protest against the apathy of the West Bengal government and police towards the family when it was in trouble.
She said Mamata did not even heed their requests for help during the five-month-10-day hospital stay of the singer and was now offering a grand farewell.
“This being the case, we did not feel like obliging the sudden show of concern by the Bengal government. Moreover, I did not reject anything. I just decided to carry on with the arrangements that were already in place here,” she said. She said that her father was a simple man with great ideals and would have liked it this way.
Shumita had recently filed a complaint with the Kolkata police alleging that Manna Dey’s nephew who held a joint account and a locker with him had siphoned off money and valuables worth about Rs 30 lakh from the account without their knowledge. She had said that the money would have helped them fund Manna Dey’s treatment.
Speaking after the cremation of her father, she said though she repeatedly called upon Mamata Banerjee and the Kolkata police commissioner to help the family get the money to fund the singer’s treatment, their appeals had fallen on deaf ears. Mamata had not cared to help the family in tough times, Shumita said.
Shumita, who initially refused to speak to Mamata over the phone, later spoke to her after West Bengal MP Kalyan Banerjee, convinced her. Shumita, however, declined to take Manna Dey’s body to Kolkata.
Meanwhile, fans who came to pay their last respects to the singer were unhappy with the arrangements made at Ravindra Kalakshetra for public viewing. The body was kept at the Kalakshetra for a brief period and hence, very few people were able to pay their respects.
“Had it been in Kolkata, the government would have done much more. At least, he would have got the respect that he deserved,” said Pankaj Bose who is a fan of the singer. He pointed out that the body was partially wet due to the rain and a singer of his calibre deserved a better treatment.
The City’s Bengali Association helped the family organise the last rites and all rituals were conducted according to the Bengali tradition.
R P Majumdar, general secretary of the Bengalee Association, said it was a moment of grief to all music lovers and the association felt that it was a sacred duty to pay their last respects to the legendary singer who lived with them in the City.
However, there were murmurs of protest against the hurry with which the family held the cremation. S Basu, a Bengali settled in the City and a Dey fan, said that he came to know of the sad demise of the singer late in the morning.
By the time he could go to Ravindra Kalakshetra, the body had been taken away from there. He rushed to the Hebbal crematorium to catch a last glimpse of the singer. Due to the hurry, none of the associates and friends of Dey could come down to the City from Mumbai and Kolkata.