On Friday morning at 8.05 am, Captain Sunil James finally touched homeland, four-and-a-half months later than he had meant to. While he had left home back in April a proud daddy of a five-month-old infant, he returns a grieving father.
Scarred by a five-month-long ordeal fraught with unspeakable tribulations, Sunil was greeted by a familiar face at Delhi airport - his wife Aditi, who flew out to the Capital as soon as she learnt that he was first landing there, for a connecting flight in Mumbai. Aditi accompanied him in the last leg of his journey, from Delhi to Mumbai.
Sunil’s brother-in-law Rakesh Madappa, who has waged a relentless campaign to secure Sunil’s release, was present at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Domestic airport, when Sunil touched down in Mumbai. He said, “Aditi was informed that Sunil was travelling via Jet Airways in a connected flight from Delhi. She immediately booked her flight tickets and left for Delhi around 5.30 am.”
While Sunil’s flight was scheduled to land at 2 pm, it got delayed by 40 minutes. The 1B Arrivals terminal was packed with Sunil’s family, friends, well-wishers and member of the press, all of whom waited with bated breath for the sailor’s return. At 3.32 pm, a visibly exhausted Sunil finally emerged from the airport, and was ushered into Rakesh’s car that drove him back home.
“At first, we weren’t aware that Sunil would land in Delhi. Nor were we aware that Aditi had left for the Capital. After months of not hearing from the government and no definite response from our lawyer, we were almost losing hopes of ever seeing him again,” added Rakesh.
The family has decided to conduct last rites for Sunil’s son Vivaan at Orlem Church in Malad, on Sunday. Aditi said, “I was beyond relieved to see my husband after so many months. After such a long period, there is so much we need to go through and come to terms with. He just needs to spend time with his loved ones now.”
Baby Vivaan’s body is now being stored at a private morgue in South Mumbai, and relatives say that Sunil will go see his son for the last time on Saturday. Binal Rao, a relative, said, “Sunil was overcome with tears as soon as he got to spend sometime alone with his family after the scene at the airport. He managed to control himself only by evening.”
Dec 20, 2013:
5.30 am: Aditi James boards a flight to Delhi to be reunited with her husband
8.05 am: Sunil James lands in Delhi after boarding his plane from Addis Ababa. He meets his wife at the airport
12.10 pm: The Delhi-Mumbai Jet Airways flight takes off.
2.42 pm: Sunil’s flight lands at Mumbai’s Shivaji Chhatrapati domestic airport
3.32 pm: Sunil exits the airport along with Aditi. The couple are ambushed by the press, and struggle to reach their family members
3.41 pm: Sunil is finally whisked off in Rakesh Madappa’s car, which drives off to his Malad home