|Military personnel pay their last respects to Timothy Sinha at Pailapool in Cachar district and (above) a relative of Naruttam Deuri breaks down at Guwahati airport, on Wednesday. Pictures by UB Photos
Silchar/Borjhar, Sept. 11: A hush fell on the assembled mourners for Timothy Sinha’s last rites at the graveyard in Pailapool in Cachar district this afternoon, as army jawans reversed arms and sounded the Last Post in honour of the 29-year-old sailor.
Timothy’s parents — pastor Vidyaratan Sinha, 65, and Mitra Sinha Chakravarty, 60 — along with other relatives who congregated at the graveyard, stood silently with bowed heads as the coffin was lowered into the ground.
A prayer service for Timothy was also held at the home of the Sinhas at Pailapool, when his coffin was flown to Silchar airport by a Calcutta-Silchar Air India plane this afternoon and driven from there to his home in an army cortege. A guard of honour was also presented by the contingent of forces drawn from the army, navy and air force after the coffin was brought at Silchar airport at 3pm.
The mortal remains of Timothy’s colleague Naruttam Deuri, 21, also reached Borjhar airport in Guwahati this morning en route to his native Major Sapori in Narayanpur subdivision in Lakhimpur district.
Their bodies were identified on September 9 after an elaborate and incisive DNA drill, 26 days after they met with a tragic end on board INS Sindhurakshak at the Mumbai naval docks, along with 16 others.
The pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Pailapool village, Rev. Lalnunchhunga Sailo, conducted the service. Three navy officials, including Lt Commander Sanjit Vir, accompanied the coffin all the way from Mumbai.
Among the dignitaries present at the airport to receive the mortal remains of Timothy and at the graveyard in Pailapool were Assam minister Goutam Roy, Cachar deputy commissioner G.M. Hazarika, superintendent of police Diganta Bora and Brig. S.G. Chavan of an army brigade in the district.
The mood was equally sombre at Borjhar airport in the afternoon and his native Major Sapori in the evening after the arrival of Deuri’s mortal remains.
Kebinet Deuri, uncle of the deceased sailor, found it difficult to hold back his tears.
Kebinet said the supreme sacrifice by a youth from a far-flung village was something to be proud of.
Naruttam’s father Jyotish was also overwhelmed by the loss of his eldest son.
Dhrubajyoti Hazarika, extra assistant commissioner of North Lakhimpur, received the mortal remains and accompanied the vehicle.
Two naval officers from Mumbai, Naruttam’s father and uncle followed suit.
Hazarika said the funeral would be conducted tomorrow at the Major Chapori LP School playground, 5km from the Narayanpur inspection bungalow where his body was kept for the night. Several hundred people visited the inspection bungalow and his household this evening to pay their last respects. Circle officer of Azara under Kamrup district, Nibedan Das Patowari, was also present.
Minister of state for water resources Rajiv Lochan Pegu will be attending the funeral at Naruttam’s village in Narayanpur, Bihpuria MLA Bhupen Kumar Borah said. “We will also be taking out a procession at 10am tomorrow. The local administration has declared a half-holiday as a mark of respect to the departed sailor,” Borah said.
However, the All Deuri Students’ Union condemned the state government for allegedly not giving “due respect” to the sailor at the airport. “It is a sheer disgrace. Not a single cabinet minister was present from the state government to pay his last respects. A raw deal has been provided as he was a tribal,” Haren Deuri, president of the union, said. The union also sought an inquiry into the alleged ill-treatment.
What infuriated the students’ body was that the hearse was bereft of flowers.