Near-stampede as thousands pay last respects to Basu


Kolkata : Jyoti Basu was known for his connect with the masses in his lifetime, in death too he drew lakhs. Thousands converged at the state assembly Tuesday to pay their last respects, creating a near-stampede situation that left some people, particularly the elderly, fainting.

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A sea of people thronged the assembly, where Basu’s body lay in state. The crowd grew impatient after having to wait for hours for a last glimpse of the leader.

Around 2 p.m., hundreds of people tried to force their way through the assembly’s southwest gate, designated for the commoners’ entry.

There was a near-stampede situation, and some people were taken ill.

Inside, the crowd turned into a deluge, and for some time there were fears of the order collapsing.

Some people were seen throwing wreaths and flowers towards the podium where the body was placed while some others refused to move as they seemed more intent on capturing Basu’s image on their mobile cameras.

There were repeated requests from top CPI-M leaders, including state party secretary Biman Bose, for the crowds to move on, but nobody seemed to be listening.

People also pushed their way into the press enclosure.

The body of Basu, who died Sunday at age 95, will be donated to a hospital in the evening for medical research in keeping with his wish.