Thousands turn up to bid adieu to Ishmeet (Second Lead)

July 31st, 2008 - 7:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Ludhiana (Punjab), July 31 (IANS) As the body of 19-year-old Ishmeet Singh made its last journey from his home to the cremation ground here Thursday, commoners and celebrities turned up in force to bid a tearful farewell to the “Voice of India”. Mystery still surrounds his death in the swimming pool of a Maldives hotel, but that he was much loved was evident from the presence of thousands of mourners, among them Bollywood singers and Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Residents of this industrial city couldn’t help but remember how they had turned out with drums, crackers and sweets to celebrate Ishmeet’s ascent as the winner of the “Voice of India” show in November.

“I cannot believe he is no more. His face had a look of satisfaction. I felt that he would just get up and start singing in his sweet voice again. God has not been fair in giving him so much in life and then snatching that life in a second,” said Rajbir Singh, a resident of Sarabha Nagar who had come to Ishmeet’s modest home.

Among the crowds were Gajendra Singh - the man behind most of the successful reality shows on various TV channels, singer Abhijeet - who treated Ishmeet like his son - and popular Punjabi singer Hans Raj Hans.

Shops in the area remained closed for the second day as a mark of respect to Ishmeet.

Earlier in the morning, as the body of the reality show singer lay in a glass coffin at his modest residence here, people known and unknown to him came for a last glimpse of the youth who had risen from among them to become a star.

Ishmeet’s family - father Gurpinder Singh, mother Amritpal Kaur and sister - were inconsolable even as scores of mourners kept pouring in. They sat beside his body even as preparations for the last rites were being made amidst religious hymns and chants of “Satnam Wahe Guru”.

Doctors at the Dayanand Medical College and hospital (DMCH) said that preliminary post mortem results showed Ishmeet had died of drowning Tuesday evening.

“The preliminary cause of Ishmeet Singh’s death is drowning. His viscera has been sent to Patiala for further chemical examination. If there is any additional cause of death, it will be declared later,” senior medical officer Harvinder Singh told reporters.

However, hours before he was scheduled to get a state funeral, Ishmeet’s uncle Charan Kamal Singh said injury marks on the forehead and chest and the budding singer’s swollen face had aroused suspicion that he may have been murdered.

“His death is not an accident alone. It could be part of a conspiracy. We want the matter investigated thoroughly. The governments of India and the Maldives and the Punjab government should be involved in this investigation,” Ishmeet’s uncle told reporters here.

Photographs of the singer’s body clearly showed a black mark on his forehead.

The 19-year-old singer had gone to the Maldives for a promotional event with the music company with which he had a contract. Ishmeet left Mumbai Tuesday morning for the Maldives, where he was to perform Aug 1. However, he drowned Tuesday in a swimming pool at a beach resort.

Maldives’ national newspaper Haveeru quoted officials from the Chaaya Dhonveli Beach Resort as saying that Ishmeet had drowned between 5.15 p.m. and 5.20 p.m. Tuesday in the hotel’s swimming pool.

“He went into the swimming pool with a couple of his friends in the afternoon,” Marlon Robert, assistant manager of the resort, said.

“None of them knew how to swim so he was using the baby (shallow) swimming pool. Since he didn’t know how to swim we had advised him not to use the big pool. Somehow or other he ended up in the big pool. When he couldn’t get out of it his friends apparently went looking for help,” Robert added.

The Haveeru report quoted the Maldives Police Service saying that Ishmeet’s body was immediately brought to the ADK Hospital in Male after the incident. The doctor who had attended to him said that the cause of death seemed to be drowning. Police said they were conducting investigations.

Sources said police in the Maldives did not get a post mortem done since there are no facilities for it in the island country.

On Nov 27, 2007, Ishmeet had won the “Voice of India” singing contest, pipping to the post his closest rival Harshit from Uttar Pradesh in a keen contest. He was given the winner’s trophy by melody queen Lata Mangeshkar.

Supporters of the singer had voted heavily for him from Punjab during the finals of the contest. Though Harshit led the votes tally in most regions of the country, the final count went in Ishmeet’s favour due to heavy voting from Punjab.

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