Silchar/Tezpur, Aug. 22: Another day and another time, the Sinhas from Cachar or the Deuris from Lakhimpur would probably have looked forward to a visit to Flora Fountain or Malabar Hills.
But not now; not when they are waiting for a word on their sailor sons Timothy and Naruttam respectively, who were aboard the submarine INS Sindhurakshak when it went down in the naval dockyard in Mumbai on the night of August 13.
“The naval authorities took us on a sightseeing tour the other day but our hearts were not in it,” Timothy’s mother, Mitra Chakravarty Sinha, 60, told The Telegraph from Mumbai today. “Our thoughts are now only on the DNA profiling of the seven sailors whose mortal remains were fished out from the sunk submarine to see if we have a DNA match with any of the bodies.”
Naruttam Deuri’s uncle Kebinet, who had joined his brother and the sailor’s father Jyotish Chandra in Mumbai, said, “We have accepted the brutal reality that our Naruttam is no more. We only wish we could at least see his body.” He said a team of experts had arrived from Norway and were trying to bring up the submarine.
He said he and his brother did go out every now and then in a vehicle provided by the naval authorities. “But how can we enjoy the sights and sounds of Mumbai when our thoughts are elsewhere?”
Kebinet said they often met the Sinhas over meals at the Naval Institute where they had been accommodated.
According to Mitra, some among the families of the 18 sailors aboard the submarine who had left Mumbai for their homes were returning one after another, as they had now been left with one mission: to learn the fate of the remaining sailors or the outcome of the DNA profiling.
She said the navy initially told them that the DNA profiling would be over in just three days and then extended it to three weeks. She said the DNA tests were now being conducted in the State Forensic Science Laboratory at Kalii in Mumbai, where the mortal remains of those seven recovered sailors were transferred from JJ Hospital. Fresh blood samples of the parents of all 18 sailors were taken on August 17, she added.
Mitra is with her husband Vidyaratan, 65, a Presbyterian Christian pastor in Pailapool near Silchar where the family stays.
Kebinet said the authorities had informed them that the DNA reports would be available in another three days. “We can only wait.”
His brother, a farmer from Major Chapori, continues to remain in a state of shock, evidenced by his stoic silence when his brother passed him the phone on a request to speak to him. “It is still very difficult for him,” Kebinet said.