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Friends, well-wishers and relatives pay their last homage to Basant Kumar Birla

There was a sizable presence from academia and the consular corps who had gathered to catch a last glimpse of their beloved leader and pay a floral tribute.

ET Bureau|
Jul 04, 2019, 11.28 PM IST
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Agencies
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The tall, silver-haired aristocratic industrialist B K Birla breathed his last at his Mumbai residence Wednesday afternoon.
KOLKATA: Business leaders, Birla employees from schools and group companies, friends, well-wishers and relatives gathered to pay their last homage to Basant Kumar Birla at his residence 'Birla Park' on Gurusaday Road in Kolkata, on Thursday.

Harshavardhan Neotia of Ambuja Neotia Group, Hari Mohan and Prashant Bangur of Shree Cement, H P and Sanjay Budhia of Patton Group, N G Khaitan of Khaitan & Co, were among those who were present at 'Birla Park' where Basant Kumar Birla lay in state on a specially erected platform that was spread with red and white petals. Sides of the platform were lined with white flowers wreaths from friends, business houses, institutions and other dignitaries.

There was a sizable presence from academia and the consular corps who had gathered to catch a last glimpse of their beloved leader and pay a floral tribute. However, it was the common person who took centre-stage. They came singly with modest offerings of a fistful of petals as well as in groups representing associations close to Basant Kumar Birla, carrying a flower wreaths which were placed with some difficulty beside the body. The crowd waited patiently in a queue that snaked through one of the busiest thoroughfares of the city, stretching up to a kilometre. Some brought wreaths — big and small. Some came with a single rose bud, holding it close to the chest, lest it wilts.

Grandson Kumar Mangalam Birla, his family members and close relatives stood beside the body during the most part before proceeding towards Kalighat crematorium for the final lap of the Birla Group patriarch's journey slightly past 1 pm on the auspicious day of the Rath Yatra. Members of the Birla family including the patriarch's daughters Manjushree Khaitan and Jayshree Mohta, prominent Birla family members such as S K Birla and son Sidharth, and CK Birla bade an emotional adieu to the patriarch.

The tall, silver-haired aristocratic industrialist B K Birla breathed his last at his Mumbai residence Wednesday afternoon. His cremation happened in Kolkata on Thursday in accordance with his 'express wishes'.

With his ancestors serving as powerful role models, teenage entrepreneur Basant Kumar pursued business activity with a passion that no one could quite curb, including his father Ghanshyam Das Birla who he greatly revered and regarded. However, he was drawn into a lot of simultaneous personal and co-curricular activity to fan an all round personality development that prevented him from becoming a 'business-worm'. Over the years, and with wife Sarala, he built up a formidable collection of sculptures, paintings and other art objects — many of which have been turned over to the Birla Academy of Art & Culture in Kolkata.

"Basant Kumar Birla was a distinguished industrialist who contributed to our nation’s prosperity. He also made a mark as an exceptional philanthropist. His passion for education was well-known. My thoughts are with his family and well-wishers in this hour of grief. Om Shanti," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

Birla’s death has created a void that could not be filled, the Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee said, recalling the 2013 Banga Bibhushan honour the state government conferred on him. President Ram Nath Kovind said: “Sorry to hear about the passing away of veteran industrialist Shri B K Birla. He made crucial contributions to business, education and several social causes.”

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