| Naruttam’s memorial under construction. Picture by Pranab Kumar Das |
Tezpur/Silchar, Aug. 12: A year after Assam sailor Naruttam Deuri died on board the INS Sindhurakshak after the submarine sank at the Mumbai naval dockyard, nothing much seems to have changed at his Major Chapori residence in Lakhimpur district.
But for securing the three-bigha plot of agricultural land from moneylenders, there has been nothing else. The government’s promise of doing up the Deuris’ thatched hut at the time of the 21-year-old’s death remains “only a promise”.
“We have been neglected by the government. But for the Rs 90,000 given to us to free our land that was heavily mortgaged, there was nothing else from the government. Worse still, no official has come to visit us in the past year. It is really sad as Naruttam sacrificed his life for the country,” his father Jyotish Chandra Deuri said.
Naruttam and Timothy Sinha, 30, a sailor from Assam’s Barak valley, were among the 18 sailors who died on the night of August 13.
At Pailapool, 22km from Silchar, an air of sullen pensiveness pervaded the almost forlorn one-storey brick-and-timber house of the Sinhas. Theirs is a story similar to the Deuris. The promise of a memorial for Timothy by the powers that be is yet to turn real.
“We were promised last year by leaders in Barak valley of a memorial as a tribute to our only son. But nothing seems to have materialised. But we are happy that the Indian Navy have set up a memorial in Mumbai,” Timothy’s father Bidyaratan Sinha, 63, a Presbyterian pastor, said.
Kebinet Deuri, Naruttam’s paternal uncle, said, “It is surprising that the state government has not given much importance to the family of a martyr at a time when there have been announcements of jobs to the kin of victims of terrorist violence. Why such double standards?”
On the contrary, Indian Navy officials have been in touch with the family from time to time. “The officials assured Naruttam’s younger brother, Delton, of help in getting him a job,” Kebinet said.
A xomadhi khetra (memorial), being constructed by the Deuri Autonomous Council where Naruttam was cremated, is on the verge of completion. A bronze statue will be set up there once the council generates the funds.
Amrit Prabha Deuri, chairman of Deuri Autonomous Council, said, “We have sanctioned Rs 5 lakh for the memorial. The council has provided another Rs 1 lakh to Naruttam’s family for observing his first death anni-versary.”
Timothy’s father said he doesn’t nurse any feeling of sorrow or regret. “My son fought against the adversity of the deep waters of the Arabian Sea and passed away on duty. I am proud of him,” Bidyaratan said.
He and his wife Mitra plan to observe their son’s death anniversary quietly.
“We will spend the day quietly tomorrow. It will be a private mourning, comprising a prayer, with friends. We also plan to distribute alms among the poor,” he said.