Identification woes cause uncertainty over return of mortal remains of braveheart

Darjeeling: A cloud of uncertainty looms large over the return of mortal remains of braveheart Havildar Satpal Rai who was the Private Security Officer of CDS General Bipin Rawat and was killed in the chopper crash. It had been a long wait for the family as DNA reports are still awaited for the identification of the bodies, charred beyond recognition.

Havildar Rai was a resident of Katusey, Maneydanra, Tukdah tea estate of Darjeeling. His family and neighbours are awaiting the return of the mortal remains of the braveheart. The exact date and time are yet to be confirmed.

On Thursday morning, Army personnel from the Lebong Army cantonment, Darjeeling, arrived at the Rai household in Tukdah tea estate and collected blood samples from his mother Santu Maya and daughter Muskan.

A blood sample was also collected from his son Bikkal Rai who serves in the same unit as his father — the 5/11 Gorkha Rifles. When contacted by Millennium Post, Bikkal Rai, informed: "Nothing is confirmed yet regarding the DNA report and the identification of the body. I will go tomorrow (Saturday) for the reports. There is a chance that we will get the DNA report tomorrow (Saturday). It could also take time. Only after confirmed reports and a DNA match is done to identify the body can the mortal remains be taken back home." Minutes before takeoff on Wednesday, Rai had video called both his son and his wife, promising to call back after reaching his destination.

After proper identification, the mortal remains will be flown to Bagdogra in Siliguri from where it will reach his village by road at the Tukdah Tea Estate in the Darjeeling Hills.

When contacted, an Army official based in Siliguri stated that there is no confirmation yet regarding the date and time of the arrival of the mortal remains at Bagdogra Airport. The same was the response from the district administration. No one could give any specific information.

Meanwhile, the burial spot for the braveheart has been earmarked at the Takdah Tea Estate next to the deceased's father's grave. All preparations are complete. The martyr will be laid to rest with full military honours. "We have decided to install a statue of Satpal Rai after the last rights are over," stated Sarad Rai, a neighbour.

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