Matua Matriarch Binapani Devi Dies at 100; PM Modi Calls Her an Icon, 'Personal Loss' for Mamata
Kolkata: Matua community matriarch Binapani Devi, popularly known as ‘Boro Ma’ (elder mother), died on Tuesday after a prolonged illness. She was 100. Matuas are a religious refugee community from Bangladesh. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee have condoled her death.
Modi hailed Devi as an 'icon of our times'. "A source of great strength and inspiration for several people, Boro Ma’s rich ideals will continue to influence generations. Her emphasis on social justice and harmony will never be forgotten," he tweeted.
The Prime Minister also recalled his interaction with Binapani Devi last month in Thakurnagar.
Last month, I had the honour of seeking the blessings of Boro Ma Binapani Thakur at Thakurnagar. I will always cherish the interaction I had with her. We stand in solidarity with the Matua community in this hour of sadness. pic.twitter.com/kiD1FC3HWc— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 5, 2019
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who was present at the hospital, termed Devi’s death as her personal loss. She said, “Devi will be cremated on Wednesday with full state honours including a gun-salute.”
I am deeply pained at passing away of Matua matriarch Boro Ma Binapani Thakur. My condolences to her family & my brothers & sisters of Matua Community at this moment of grief. It was a great opportunity for me to meet Boro Ma last November, on the centenary of her birthday 1/2— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) March 5, 2019
“I am deeply pained at passing away of Matua matriarch Boro Ma Binapani Thakur. My condolences to her family & my brothers & sisters of Matua Community at this moment of grief. It was a great opportunity for me to meet Boro Ma last November, on the centenary of her birthday,” she tweeted.
After overseeing arrangements I just left the hospital. 6 senior ministers there to take care of the last rites. She will be accorded state-funeral with gun salute tomorrow. We are proud to have conferred Banga Bibhusan on Boro Ma. May her soul rest in peace 2/2— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) March 5, 2019
"We are proud to have conferred Banga Bibhusan on Boro Ma. May her soul rest in peace," Banerjee added. Banga Bibhusan is the highest civilian award of the West Bengal government.
In a statement, West Bengal governor Keshari Nath Tripathi expressed his deep grief at the demise of Boro Ma and extended his heart-felt condolences to her family members and large number of followers.
Doctors at the SSKM hospital in the city said she suffered a multi-organ failure and breathed her last at 8.52 pm. She had been shifted to the hospital on Sunday due to an acute lung infection and high fever.
She was also a diabetic and suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the doctors said.
Mamata Thakur, local TMC MP and daughter-in-law of Devi, said, “I don’t have words to express the loss. She was an inspiration to me and all in our community. She was a great leader. Today, I am completely broke.”
Medical superintendent of SSKM Hospital Raghunath Misra said Boro Ma’s condition started deteriorating around 5pm on Monday. “She was put on ventilator support. She suffered a multi-organ failure,” he said.
Devi headed the Matuas sect, a religious refugee community from Bangladesh. She was the widow of Pramath Ranjan Thakur (great-grandson of Harichand Thakur). Harichand Thakur was the founder of Matua Mahasangha.
On February 2, 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had met Binapani Devi at her house after a public meeting and enquired about her health. He also sought her blessings.
With nearly 65-67 per cent voters in Bongaon Lok Sabha seat belonging to the Matua community, the sect holds sway with political parties with ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Matuas are considered as a key political force behind Mamata Banarjee’s rise to power.
Not only Bongaon, in at least 10 Lok Sabha constituencies, the Matuas play an important role. They are Krishnanagar, Ranaghat, Malda North, Malda South, Burdwan East, Burdwan West, Silguri, Cooch Behar, Raiganj and Joynagar.
In all the constituencies, average voting percentage of Matuas are between 35-40 %.