Matua matriarch Binapani Devi dead, Mamata announces state funeral

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Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visits SSKM hospital to inspect the health of Matua community matriarch Binapani Devi popularly known as "Boroma" in Kolkata on March 5, 2019. (Photo: IANS)

Kolkata, March 5 : Dalit Matua community matriarch Binapani Devi, popularly known as ‘Boroma’, passed away at the state-run SSKM Hospital on Tuesday following multi-organ failure, hospital Medical Superintendent Raghunath Misra said.

Boroma, aged 100, breathed her last at 8.52 p.m. She is survived by her younger son Manjul Krishna Thakur as the her elder son Kapil Krishna Thakur pre-deceased her.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who rushed to the hospital after Boroma’s condition became grave, announced the news of her passing away to the large number of devotees of the All India Matua Mahasangha, who had crowded the area since the morning.

Banerjee said the funeral procession would start on Wednesday morning, piloted by Kolkata Police. “She would be given a gun salute and state funeral,” she announced, describing her death as a “personal loss”.

“She was like a guardian for us, she always supported me,” Banerjee said.

State Food Minister Jyotipriyo Mullick said Boroma would be cremated at the Matua Mahasangha headquarters known as ‘Thakurbari’ in Thakurnagar area of North 24 Parganas district.

“Her family members will decide the timing of her last rights. Lakhs of her followers will be present there to convey their last respect to her. The local district officials are making the necessary arrangements in that regard,” he said.

Admitted to JNM Hospital in Nadia district’s Kalyani on February 28 following shortness of breath and fever, Boroma was shifted to the SSKM on Sunday after her condition deteriorated.

On Tuesday, she was put on ventilator support after her condition became “extremely critical”, hospital authorities said.

“She was suffering from high fever when she was brought here on Sunday which later turned into pneumonia. She already had pre-existing problems like COPD and mild diabetes. She was put on ventilation since 5 a.m. She had multi-organ failure,” Misra told IANS.

Boroma was the chief adviser of the the Mahasangha. Considered to be Bengal’s second most influential Scheduled Caste community comprising primarily low-caste Hindu refugees from Bangladesh, it has over one crore members spread over various southern Bengal districts, especially North 24 Parganas.

Launched by the followers of Harichand Thakur, it began as a religious reformation movement that originated in what is now called Bangladesh.

Born in Jabdakathi village of Barishal district (now in Bangladesh), Borma was in 1933 married to Pramatharanjan Thakur, a freedom fighter and great-grandson of Harichand.

After the partition of India in 1947, large number of members of the Matua community migrated to West Bengal.

Pramatharanjan died in 1990, following which Binapani Devi took over the leadership of the community, which has always been wooed by various political parties in the state as it commands over 70 lakh votes in various southern districts and plays a sizeable role in determining the electoral fortunes in at least 74 of the state’s 294 Assembly seats.

Boroma shared a good rapport with Banerjee, and acted as a big political force behind the Trinamool Congress’ win in the 2011 and 2016 Assembly elections.

In December last year, the state government bestowed on her its highest honour – ‘Bangabibhushan’.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also met her on February 2 during his visit to North 24 Parganas district’s Thakurnagar.