Isolated by Villagers: Family of Dead Navy Man Refuses Last Rites

For 53-year-old Ujali of Rangaranga village of Jajpur district of Odisha, performing the last rites for a son – who she still believes is alive – would mean stolid acceptance of his death, something the widowed mother is not prepared to do.

A member of the Indian Navy, Purnachandra Senapati (28) of Jajpur district, was in the plane that had gone missing between Chennai and Port Blair on 22 July 2016.

Members of his family are now being isolated by close relatives and other villagers for not conducting obsequies as per the Hindu tradition, as they still believe  Purnachandra is alive, even after the plane was declared ‘missing’ seven months ago.

While villagers want the Navy man’s obsequies to be conducted, Purnachandra‘s immediate family members still believe that he is alive and therefore refuse to treat him as dead.

Purnachandra Senapati (Photo Courtesy: Ashis Senapati)

Family Draws Ire of Those Closest to Them

On 17 October, the Indian Air Force (IAF) officially declared that 29 passengers, including Purnachandra Senapati, were killed in the plane crash of an AN-32 Air Force plane, 55 days after its disappearance. The plane was en route from Chennai to Port Blair on 22 July, when it went missing.

Prakash, Purnachandra’s cousin, said that even after nine months, Purnachandra’s immediate family was not ready to believe that he was death. As a result, Prakash and his family snapped all ties with them.

He said:

They also earned the ire of community elders. Nobody will enter their house unless they perform obsequies of Purnachandra. We will not even touch them as they are impure.

Krushna Chandra Swain, a school teacher of the Rangaranga village, echoed Prakash’s statement. He said:

They refused to perform any death rites or rituals as they believe Purnachandra is alive, and therefore, many villagers have decided not to visit their house. They should mourn the death of Purnachandra as per Hindu religious tradition.

There is No Proof of My Son’s Death: Navy Man’s Mother

Ujali (53), the widowed mother of Purnachadra, is hell-bent on not performing the obsequies of her son as she believes that he is alive.

I am clutching to all the hopes that my son would be well. I still hope that God will not be so cruel to us and I believe that my son would return home safely. There is no evidence of proof that my son is not alive for which we will not perform obsequies for my son. My husband Suryamani died 13 years ago, leaving behind three sons and a daughter. I worked hard to provide education to all my children.

Purnachandra’s younger brother Mohan held faith alongside his mother. He said :

We are trying to just hang onto the hope that my brother is still alive, for which, we have decided not to perform any obsequies for Purnachandra.  We have  been facing social boycott and mental agony for refusing to perform obsequies of Purnachandra . But nobody will compel us to perform obsequies of my brother,  said Mohan, the younger brother of Purnachandra

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