Amid COVID-19 lockdown, PK Banerjee's funeral confined to family only
The bereaved family of PK Banerjee on Monday strictly followed the social distancing norms as the legendary footballer’s shraddh was performed at his Saltlake residence, amid a 21-day national lockdown to fight the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
Banerjee’s two daughters Paula and Punra made a mass appeal to not attend the 10th day of the funeral ritual as only two of his four surviving brothers attended the ritual in the afternoon.
“Nobody was invited. My uncle (Prasun Banerjee) and I performed the last rituals,” Banerjee’s elder daughter Paula told PTI.
“We have made a mass appeal not to come for the function because of the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown. When things get normal, we will hold a large scale memorial service.”
Banerjee died at the age of 83 on March 20 after a prolonged illness. He was on life support for close to a month.
Due to the COVID-19 scare, his funeral was conducted in a low-key manner and his body was not taken to the Maidan clubs where he spent most of his life as player and coach.
“My father was a socially-responsible human being and in such a time of crisis we cannot just ignore the lockdown appeal made by the head of the state and country,” Paula said.
“We should not do anything that put human’s lives at stake. That’s why we are strictly following social distancing. At no point there are more than eight or nine people.”
Eldest among eight siblings, Banerjee is survived by four brothers, including the sitting Trinamool Congress MP from Howrah Prasun, who was younger to PK by 18 years.
The only “guest” during the scaled-down ceremony was Bidhannagar MLA Sujit Bose, who arranged sweets and flowers amid the national lockdown, while PK’s brothers came in turns with Prasun performing the last rites.
“Definitely, we are very, very sad that many people could not make it. But my father’s greatest quality was that of a humanitarian,” Paula said.
“The pain is ours as nobody could attend Baba’s last rites. But just because of this we cannot put people’s lives in danger. Then what did we learn from our father.
“However we did not face any difficulty, we got help from the community. (Sujit) Bose has been very helpful and ensured a smooth conduct of the ceremony, even as we cut down on a lot of things.”
Initially, the family had planned an arrangement of about 150-200 mourners in the nearby GD Park but they had to drop their plans after Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a 21-day national lockdown beginning Wednesday.
“We are telling everybody with a lot of humility that nothing happened today but whenever things get normal then we will bring all of you together for a memorial service. That will be befitting for my father. His soul will rest in peace if everyone stays safe,” she concluded.