Hundreds pay last respects to Naveen, family donates body to medical college

PTI, Mar 21, 2022, 5:35 PM IST

Hundreds of people paid their last respects to Naveen Shekarappa Gyanagaudar, a medical student from the state who was killed in a Russian shelling in war-torn Ukraine three weeks ago, before his mortal remains were donated to a private medical college, as per the wishes of the family.

The 21-year-old final year student at Kharkiv National Medical University had died on March one, in the conflict zone, tragically becoming India’s first casualty in the ongoing offensive in the eastern European nation. His mortal remains arrived at the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru in the early hours on Monday, and was later shifted to his native Chalageri village of Ranebennur taluk in this district in an ambulance.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, senior political leaders and officials, along with Gyanagaudar’s family members were present at the airport to receive the body.

On reaching the Chalageri village, the mortal remains were kept for the public to pay their last respects, which saw hundreds of people including Bommai, political and religious leaders, officials, relatives and friends of the deceased in attendance.

His emotional parents and brothers then conducted the last rites related rituals as per the Veerashaiva Lingayat traditions. Bommai consoled the parents and other family members.

The mortal remains were then carried in a procession across the village, before being handed over to Shamanur Shivashankarappa Institute of Medical Sciences & Research Center at the district headquarters town of Davangere.

According to a doctor from the institute, Gyanagaudar’s body was embalmed well before being transported to India and is fit for medical education related requirements. It will be further subjected to tests and anatomical embalming to be preserved for future medical research and education, he said, while complimenting the family for donating the body.

Bommai telephoned Prime Minister Narendra Modi and thanked him for his role in getting back the mortal remains of Gyanagaudar, and fulfilling the parents’ wishes to see him for one last time.

Earlier, speaking to reporters, Bommai while expressing grief over the unfortunate death of the young man, said, ”it looks like the shell has not directly hit him. Maybe he got injured in the head due to shelling in the neighboring building, because of which he has died on the spot.” Stating Modi had told Naveen’s father that his ward is the son of the country and promised all efforts will be made to bring his body to the country, Bommai said, ”the mother was crying to see the body.” ”Initially, we were skeptical about the possibility of bringing it from the war zone. It was a herculean task, which was successfully conducted by the Prime Minister with his huge diplomatic strength and image,” the CM said.

Also thanking External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and officials, for safely evacuating thousands of Indian students, including 572 from the state, from Ukraine, Bommai said, ”this (bringing body) was just impossible because most of the time we can’t get the bodies of our soldiers from war zones, but here getting a citizen’s body that too from a third country, it is just a miracle.” According to officials, the MEA had appointed a Funeral Agent to take possession of the mortal remains of Gyanagaudar. The agent after completing necessary paperwork transported the body to Warsaw in Poland.

The Indian Embassy in Poland and the Funeral Agent subsequently completed all documentations required for transportation of the body to India, they said, adding it was brought to Bengaluru from Warsaw via Dubai.

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