Raja Mukhopadhyay, Poetry-Loving Police Officer, Dies at 50

Raja Mukhopadhyay, Poetry-Loving Police Officer, Dies at 50


This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

By day, he was a senior officer in charge of telecommunications for his district police department. But at night, Raja Mukhopadhyay communicated in another medium: verse. Mr. Mukhopadhyay was an accomplished poet, the author of some 2,000 poems in Bengali and a well-known figure in local literary circles in India’s West Bengal state.

“Poetry was his true passion,” his brother, Debasis Mukhopadhyay, said. He even started a school in his hometown to teach students the finer points of poetry recitation.

Mr. Mukhopadhyay inherited his love of Bengali literature from his mother and started writing poetry as a teenager. Several of his poems were published in magazines and online and he had many admirers of his work on social media, his brother said.

Mr. Mukhopadhyay tested positive for the coronavirus on Oct. 5 shortly after attending a conference. He decided to go to a hospital in Kolkata to protect his family, rather than quarantine at home. He developed breathing difficulties, and died of Covid-19 on Nov. 5, his brother said. He was 50.

Mr. Mukhopadhyay was born on Dec. 18, 1969, in Salda, a small village in West Bengal, to Mrityunjoy Mukhopadhyay, a government employee and Sudha Mukhopadhyay, a homemaker. He was the youngest of three siblings. The family’s circumstances were modest, Debasis said. The children walked 2 miles to school and electricity only arrived in the area while they were in the teens, but he recalled their childhood as happy.

Mr. Mukhopadhyay was a good student and attended Kalipur College, where he earned a degree in chemistry in 1990. (He tutored local children in the subject while on the police force.) Despite his degree, he became fascinated by radio wireless technology and Morse code and decided to learn more about it.

He joined a district police force in West Bengal in 1995 and was assigned to the telecommunications department. He married Mitali Chatterjee in 2000. It was a traditional arranged marriage but the couple shared a love of Bengali literature and poetry and they hosted many literary soirees at their home over the years.

Along with his brother, Mr. Mukhopadhyay is survived by his wife, his sons Oishik and Sharanya, his parents and a sister, Bulbul.

Many of his poems had romantic or political themes. The family provided an example, which is untitled:

When going for a swim in the sea

You call me

I will keep my eyes on the storm

Allow me to hold both your hands.

Let our words go breaking the barrier

Beyond all calculations.

Let the sun rise with a new dawn

And the ferry weather all the storm.

When going for a swim

Call me once,

Remove all the darkness of mind

And allow me to hold both your hands.



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