Silence prevailed on that stretch of the road and, for a while, all movements were hushed as the moment arrived for the last journey to begin. At the far-away front of the long column in which his comrades stood at attention, a huge red banner spread across the road, paying tribute to the great revolutionary life of the departed leader: ‘RED SALUTE, COMRADE RANJIT DHAR’. Lined up behind this banner were the flagbearers drawn from the ranks of the party’s KOMSOMOL and the AIDSO, the student front—ninety red flags lowered to half-mast and dipped forward in tribute to a life span of ninety years laid down for the cause of the toiling millions of the country. In a flower-bedecked truck behind, with white wreaths all over his body, he lay on a raised platform—the valiant fighter for the cause of the toiling masses of India, an ardent student of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, the great leader of the proletariat, and a truly steadfast communist character who stood out as one bright example for the party and the country to emulate, being bidden farewell by his comrades, his countrymen, from the doorsteps of 48 Lenin Sarani in Kolkata, the Party headquarters. The leaders of the Party and the hundreds of Party workers, supporters and sympathizers stood over there following him in profound grief and pain and vowing in that silence to be equal to the task his living memory now adjured them to fulfil.
For quite some time, Comrade Ranjit Dhar, whom the comrades found to be ever agile and active braving his growing age, was not keeping good health due to age-related ailments. Gradually, his health condition deteriorated and he was admitted at the Calcutta Heart Clinic and Hospital where a team of leading doctors treated him and monitored his condition round the clock. But then after severe hematuria, he developed symptoms of multi-organ failure with bladder-related problems, bronchial attack, neurological disorder, high diabetes and renal failure. He was put on dialysis but subsequently he could not even accept that after some days. So, the attending doctors informed the Party leadership to be mentally prepared for the worst. And the curtain was drawn in the afternoon of 14 June 2019, to be exact at 04.10 pm. Comrade Ranjit Dhar, endeared to all comrades as Ranjitda, departed for ever with the memory deeply etched in everyone’s heart. The Party leadership announced that his mortal remains would be kept in a mortuary that night and brought to the Central Office of the Party at 3 pm on 14 June for comrades to pay their revolutionary tribute.
Ranjitda, lying lifeless on the bier bedecked with flower and draped in the red flag, reached the Party Central Office he used to enter all the time in bold strides, around 3.30 pm. Hundreds of comrades had already thronged there to have a glimpse of the departed leader; the hundreds who deemed it a glory to be showered with his boundless love for them and the toiling people; the unyielding strength of his character and the irresistible force of the manner he spoke to them with wit, humour and affection. With tears rolling down their eyes, they recalled the invaluable teaching of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh: “Politics calls for noble feelings of heart. Nobler still is the feeling that spurs on to revolutionary politics. Tender as it is in one way, inherent in it are stern reality, strict discipline, and steadfast sense of duty. Our work cannot suffer because of our grief. Outwardly, the conduct of this politics appears so heartless. But it is here, in what appears so heartless, that the significance of true realization of grief lies. That is why, big revolutionaries, even in the midst of most profound grief, unwaveringly pursue their revolutionary work …So I said, revolutionary politics comes from nobler feelings… In this commitment to duty is revealed the true nature of the tender heart of the revolutionary. The pain and sorrow of the entire society together with the revolutionary transformation they underwent in the realm of values made such a penetrating impact on the revolutionaries that they have become steeled in their resolve to make revolution a concrete reality. That is why, the revolutionaries never neglect their duty. Even death of the most beloved, a profound loss, or an event leading to deep emotional upsurge cannot make them oblivious of their duty.”
Comrade Provash Ghosh, General Secretary of the Party was first to place a wreath, red roses stitched in a huge thick ring, on Comrade Ranjit Dhar’s body to pay his homage to the departed veteran Polit Bureau member, his senior revolutionary compatriot for decades. Then floral tribute was paid by Comrade Fakruddin Kabir Atik on behalf of Mubinul Haider Chowdhury, General Secretary, Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal (Marxist). After that, Comrades Manik Mukherjee, Asit Bhattacharyya, Sankar Saha, Gopal Kundu and Saumen Basu, all Polit Bureau members and Comrade Krishna Chakraborty, former Polit Bureau and Central Committee member placed floral wreaths in sequence on his body silenced forever. Then floral tribute was offered by the available Central Committee members—Comrades Swapan Ghosh, Manab Bera, Chhaya Mukherjee, Amitava Chatterjee, Shankar Ghosh, Asok Samanta, Swapan Chatterjee and Subhas Dasgupta. Floral tribute was also paid on behalf of Comrades Chandidas Bhattacharjee, Rabin Samajpati and Arun Singh, all Central Committee members and State Secretaries of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar respectively. With the mark of respectful fraternity, senior leaders of the CPI, RSP, Forward Bloc and CPI (ML)-Liberation also placed floral tribute to the deceased leader. Tributes were also paid on behalf of Proletarian Era and Ganadabi, English and Bengali organs of the Party respectively with which Comrade Ranjit Dhar was closely associated as well as the mass and class organizations of the Party — AIUTUC, AIKKMS, AIDSO, AIDYO, AIMSS — and other mass organizations. Then, one by one these grief stricken comrades from West Bengal as well as Bihar and Jharkhand filed past the body, some offering flowers, some a garland, some a wreath. Some of them broke down in tears, some quietly wiped off the tears rolling down their cheeks. Everywhere around including the rooftop of the Central Office building, the red flag fluttered at half-mast in a slow breeze.
At the stroke of 17.30 hours, the journey began, his last on the streets where he had fought many a battle of democratic mass movement along with compatriots and comrades, his last from 48 Lenin Sarani, his work centre for many years. In the front were volunteers from Komsomol, the young communist wing of the Party, and AIDSO carrying 90 red-flags dipped low to mark the 90 years of age of Comrade Ranjit Dhar. Now slogans rose from the depths of heart: ‘ Red Salute, Comrade Ranjit Dhar’. Comrade Provash Ghosh along with other Polit Bureau and Central Committee members joined the mourning procession. The marchers whom grief had steeled into a single resolve slowly moved on maintaining revolutionary discipline towards the Keoratala Electric Crematorium of South Kolkata where he spent a good number of days carrying out the responsibilities entrusted by the Party and in course of that became virtually a member of so many families resident there. The procession turned round to Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road and then treaded along S.N. Banerjee Road towards Rani Rashmoni Road and then took left towards the crematorium. Only refrains of the Internationale and the song on Comrade Shibdas Ghosh rose from that vast silence of a moving human stream. At 19.30 hours, the procession reached the Keoratala Crematorium. A large gathering of people and workers who could not join the procession early had assembled on its premises. His body was kept on the altar and the thousands of comrades who had trekked the route following the bier now filed past the leader’s body with tearful eyes, paying tribute in red salute. The Komsomol presented him the last guard of honour. The members of the Polit Bureau and Central Committee as well as the State-level leaders led by Comrade Provash Ghosh, paid homage in Red Salute. Slogans reverberated around: ‘Red Salute, Comrade Ranjit Dhar’. We’ll not forget you comrade, we won’t.’ The body was consigned to flames.