INS Sindhurakshak tragedy: Bodies of 6 sailors sent to native town

The mortal remains of six submariners brought up from the wreckage of the INS Sindhurakshak were sent to their native places yesterday, after a ceremonial wreath-laying ceremony.

Tearful journey: The bodies of Liju Lawrence (left) and Vishnu Vishwambaran were sent home yesterday   

Bodies of four sailors were then handed over to the grief-stricken family members who took them to their respective cities, while naval officials escorted the bodies of the other two sailors since their family members could not make it to the city.

The wreath-laying ceremony was held at Navy hospital INHS Asvini in Colaba at 4 pm in remembrance of the sailors, and was attended by senior naval officials, including the chief of the Western Naval Command.

Six out of the nine bodies retrieved from the sunken submarine were identified after DNA examinations. The remains of Rajesh Tootika (LME), Vishnu Vishambaran (RO II), Seetaram Badapalli (LS RP I) and Liju Lawrence (LEMP) were handed to the family members while the bodies of Kewal Singh (LS UC I) and Malay Haldar (EMR II) were sent to their respective hometowns, escorted by a team of naval personnel.

A private firm carrying out repatriations of bodies was assigned the task of transporting the bodies to the respective destinations, said a naval official.

Last goodbyes
Liju Lawrence’s father Thomas spoke with MiD DAY from Thiruvananthapuram. “I have been intimated by naval officials who visited our house last evening that my son’s body would arrive at 9.30 am. They informed us that all arrangements to transport his coffin from Mumbai to Thiruvananthapuram was complete,” he said. 

“We will keep the coffin for local residents to pay homage for an hour and then continue with the burial ceremony. We will bury his body near to our house, so that he can remain close to us forever,” Thomas added.

Liju’s elder brother Biju claimed his body yesterday.

Twenty-one-year-old sailor Vishnu Vishambaran’s family members -- mother Sujata (43), and younger brother Vinayakanan (18) -- are waiting for the body to arrive today. Vishnu’s cousin brother R Rajesh said, “The Naval officials are in touch with the family and we were had a meeting with the collector until late evening to discuss the funeral plans.”

A naval official said, “A full guard of honour would be given to the submariners before their cremation/burial at their respective hometowns.”

Five more dead bodies are kept at the JJ mortuary, and the process of identifying them through DNA is underway.

August 14 tragedy
An explosion resulting in a major fire took place on board the INS Sindhurakshak, a Kilo-class submarine of the Indian Navy, shortly after midnight on 14 August. Eighteen naval personnel were on board the submarine at the time of the accident. After 36 hours of continuous diving to trace the personnel, the first breakthrough came in the early hours of August 16 when Navy divers reached the second compartment behind the conning tower. Three bodies were located and extricated from the submarine from this compartment. A total of 11 bodies were found in the following days; six were identified after DNA tests while five are kept at the mortuary of JJ Postmortem Center. The process of identifying them is underway.

The number of sailors pulled out from the sunken INS Sindhurakhshak so far

The number of sailors identified after DNA tests

12 sailors yet to be identified
Name                            Rank
Nikhilesh                     Pal LTCDR
Alok Kumar                  LTCDR
R Venkitaraj                 LTCDR
Sanjeev Kumar           PO UW I
KC Upadhyay              PO UW I
Timothy Sinha             PO UW I
Sunil Kumar                SEA I UW III
Dasari Prasad            MECH(R) 2
K Singh                        STD I
Atul Sharma                SEA I
Vikas E                        SEA I
Naruttam Deuri          ME I 

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