Nov. 25: The Bengal government has decided to take the responsibility of sending slain Maoist leader Kishan's body to Hyderabad after it is identified by his niece Deepa tomorrow.
The decision was taken at a meeting this evening of chief minister Mamata Banerjee, chief secretary Samar Ghosh, home secretary G.D. Gautama and additional director-general (law and order) Surajit Kar Purkayastha at Writers'.
Soon after her return from Delhi this afternoon, Mamata convened the meeting to review the operation in West Midnapore's Burishole forest that led to Kishan's death and decide on the government's course of action.
According to Writers' sources, the chief minister instructed the officials to ensure that Kishan's body is sent to Hyderabad, from where it could be taken to his native village, Peddapally in Andhra Pradesh's Karimnagar, either by his family or by the authorities there.
"She (Mamata) said the state government would take the responsibility of flying the body to Hyderabad after the formalities are completed. She said the government had to do this much in helping Kishan's family carry out his last rites," an official said this evening. "The chief minister told us that no discourtesy should be shown by the government after the death," he added.
Last night, under the supervision of IG (western range) Gangeshwar Singh, Kishan's body was wrapped in a polythene sheet and taken from Burishole forest to Jhargram sub-divisional hospital. This afternoon, the body was taken in a hearse to Midnapore Medical College Hospital, where a post-mortem will be conducted tomorrow.
Deepa, the daughter of Kishan's elder brother Anjaneyulu, had seen her uncle last when she was four. Thirty-two years have passed since then — Deepa is now 36 — and it is unlikely she will have a clear recollection of Kishan's face, which had changed over the years.
However, an official requirement that a blood relative should identify the body has prompted officials to show the body to the homemaker. She is the only relative who is fit enough to travel to Bengal as Kishan's mother is unwell. Another of Kishan's brothers, Venugopal, is a CPI (Maoist) politburo member who is now underground. Kishan's wife is said to have rebel links too.
The actual identification is expected to be done by Maoist sympathiser and poet Varavara Rao, who is accompanying Deepa.
"My father is suffering from kidney failure and my 85-year-old grandmother (Kishan's mother) is a cancer patient," Deepa said. "That is why I had to come to Calcutta even though I had last seen my uncle when I was four years old. I have memories of playing in his lap. I will have no problem recognising him as he looks exactly like my grandfather (Kishan's father). Besides, my grandmother and father have told me enough about my uncle, so I think I will be able to identify him," she added.
Deepa said her family did not have any recent photograph of Kishan. "But I have seen the older ones," the homemaker said.
Police sources said while Rao would identify the body as he knew Kishan well, Deepa was expected to sign a bond on behalf of the family and take custody of the body.
The police said that though there was no rule that made it mandatory for a family member to identify the body of a slain terrorist, the "norm" was followed "so that there is no controversy".
This afternoon, Deepa and Rao met home secretary Gautama at Writers' for a few minutes. "We have requested the state government to conduct the post-mortem according to proper norms, preferably in Calcutta. We have also urged the government to duly hand over the body to the family for his last rites. The home secretary said things will be done according to norms," Rao said.
Deepa and Rao left for Midnapore town this evening.