By Debayan Mukherjee
New Delhi, May 1 (IANS) Drama reigned supreme three days after former India footballer Poongam Kannan breathed his last, as his dead body could not be buried due to a tug of war between his two wives.
Kannan died at a city hospital on Sunday following prolonged illness. According to his family sources, the 80-year old is survived by wife Antoinette and two daughters.
But after his death, it came to light that the forward who represented India 14 times, had married thrice as his first wife, based out of Bengaluru, claimed right to his body and demanded it to be taken to the Garden City.
It was decided initially that Kannan’s body would be buried in Kolkata on Tuesday after paying a final visit to Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, the clubs he played for with distinction.
But once his first wife, Vijay Laxmi, came to Mohun Bagan ground and demanded the body be taken to Bengaluru, things took an ugly turn.
“I have looked after him for 30 years. I have taken care of him when he was ill and bed ridden. Now they (Kannan’s first wife) have come and are staking a claim,” Kannan’s third wife Antoinette told IANS.
“I don’t know if she is his wife or not. He must be having two-three more there (in Bengaluru). Where was she all this while? They want his body now because of money. They want to use his name to organise charity matches and earn money. That’s all. I don’t want so much farce around someone who is no more. So I have given permission to take his body to Bengaluru,” she alleged.
While his first wife could not be contacted, Sanjay Das, local councillor of Dum Dum area in Kolkata’s northern fringes told IANS that the body is being taken to Bengaluru and is in good condition.
“The body has been released from the morgue and is being taken to Bengaluru by an 8 p.m. flight. The body is in good condition. Both parties have shown sufficient documentation to prove that Kannan married them,” he said.
Kannan lived with his two daughters, one of whom now lives in Oman after getting married, and wife in a one-bedroom apartment in a narrow bylane of Jawpur road in Dum Dum and the family had made several appeals to his clubs and the state government to foot medical bills of the star of yesteryear.
Besides playing for Mohun Bagan (8 years) and East Bengal (2 years), Kannan represented India at the 1966 Bangkok Asian Games and 1968 Meredeka Cup before retiring in 1982.
He also won Santosh Trophy for Bengal twice in a row (1971-73) and was the top-scorer.
Born in Vandavasi in Tamil Nadu, Kannan also played in Bengaluru and Chennai.
He played for four years for Universal RC in the Chennai Football Association (CFA) senior division football league.
(Debayan Mukherjee can be contacted at [email protected])