A week ago,Jogyeswari Deuri had hoped against hope that her 21-year-old son Naruttam one of the 18 Navy sailors who were inside INS Sindhurakshak on the fateful night of August 13 when explosions hit the submarine would return home alive one day. Today,she would settle down for whatever they have found of his body.
Initially,I prayed for his safe rescue. Now,even if God sent me whatever they have found of him,I will be happy, said the 48-year-old mother of the sailor,sitting amidst a dozen women under the tin-roofed bamboo walled hut of her home at Major-chapori,a village in Lakhimpur district,350 kilometres east of Guwahati.
Her husband Jyotish Deuri,who was flown to Mumbai a day after the mishap,calls her at least twice a day and repeats the same thing to her Naruttams body has not yet been identified.
Till date,divers have recovered 10 bodies,of which four have been identified through DNA tests. Tests on the remaining bodies are yet to conclude. Dada said he was expecting a positive response in a day or two, said Kebinet,Naruttams uncle who teaches in a non-government school. He too was flown to Mumbai by government officials two weeks ago for a DNA test. He has since returned home after his wife gave birth to a baby girl 10 days ago.
Local villagers with the help of Deuri Autonomous Council,have put up a tin-shed in the courtyard of the Naruttams home to perform his shraadh. But my nephew is yet to be officially declared as dead. I dont know how many more days we will have to wait, said uncle Civil Deuri.
More the delay,and our villagers would stop coming to console us, added the mother. The family has a 3.5 bigha plot of land on which a half-built house under Indira Awas Yojana stands since 1993.
We hardly have any say on our land now because we had mortgaged it for Rs 20,000 to pay for Naruttams expense after he was selected in the Navy,three years ago, said the mother. We read in newspapers that the chief minister (Tarun Gogoi) has instructed the deputy commissioner to free our land of the mortgage. But we havent heard anything directly from the government, said uncle Kebinet.
Naruttam had to give up his engineering studies within three months of taking admission due to the familys financial problems. Later,he was selected for the Indian Navy,and six months ago he was chosen to be a part of the submarines crew.