Even as the family of detained Indian merchant navy Captain Sunil James awaits his return from Togo, time is running out for them to bury 11-month-old Vivaan, who died of septicemia two weeks ago.
After his death on December 2, James’s wife Aditi had been adamant that she wouldn’t deny him the right to bury Vivaan. The body has been preserved in the morgue at Cooper Hospital. She also refused to carry out the burial as a mark of protest against the government’s inability to facilitate James’s release. The threat of deterioration and uncertainty surrounding James’s return forced Aditi to reconsider her stance.
“We have been told that the deterioration will slowly begin to set in after 15-20 days in spite of preserving the body in cold storage. Monday will mark two weeks since Vivaan died. Aditi has been clear that no harm should come to Vivaan. Although we want Sunil to bury his son, we don’t know when he will be released. We are waiting to hear from our lawyer in Togo on Monday. If he tells us that Sunil won’t be released in the coming week, we will take a decision by Wednesday,” said Aditi’s brother Rakesh Madappa.
Hospital authorities said they urge families of deceased to claim the bodies as soon as possible. “When when a body is preserved in cold storage, decay does not stop. It just slows down. Bodies should not be kept for more 12 days. We respect their (James family’s) wish, but they should not keep the body this long,” said Dr Shashikant Wadekar, medical superintendent, Cooper Hospital.
James (28) and two of his colleagues have been detained in Togo since July after they stopped there to report a pirate attack on their vessel, MT Ocean Centurion. James’s family said the Togo Navy suspects the three Indians aided the pirates.
The family filed a release application — the sixth since July — in Togo two weeks ago, to allow James to travel home for the burial. The judge is yet to take a decision on it, the family said.