New Delhi: The body of Naveen Shekharappa Gyanagoudar — an Indian student who died during shelling in war-torn Ukraine on 1 March — is en route to India.
Expressing relief after waiting nearly three weeks, his family, based in Karnataka’s Chalageri village, said they plan to donate Naveen’s body to a medical college located in a nearby city called Davanagere, about 32 km away.
“We are so relieved. Finally, my son is coming back to his motherland. After performing last rites and rituals, we are planning to donate the body to SS Medical College. Naveen was very interested in the medical sciences, he wanted to be a doctor. So it makes sense to donate his body so that it could be beneficial to other medical students,” the student’s father Shekhar Gouda told ThePrint.
According to the family, the body will be repatriated via Poland and is scheduled to arrive in Bengaluru at around 3 am Monday. Naveen’s elder brother, Harsha, 25, who is pursuing a PhD in agriculture, will receive the body at Kempegowda International Airport along with few other relatives.
ThePrint had earlier reported that the 21-year-old student’s body was shifted out of Kharkiv due to security reasons and moved to Vinnytsia, a city in west-central Ukraine.
“From day one, our family has been deeply affected by the news of Naveen’s passing. We have been very upset. But I have to thank all our leaders — the prime minister, chief minister, external affairs minister — for bringing my son back home. I feel that directly or indirectly, all the people of my country helped bring back the body, and now he can be at peace,” said Naveen’s father.
Naveen, who was enrolled at Kharkiv National Medical University, had died from shelling as a missile struck an administrative building in the city while he was buying groceries nearby.
Another Indian student, Chandan Jindal from Punjab’s Barnala district, had died from a brain stroke on 2 March.
The last batch of Indian students from Ukraine had returned to India under the central government’s ‘Operation Ganga’ on 13 March.
Body to be taken to family’s village
According to the family, Naveen’s body will be brought to their village Chalageri at around 9.30 am Monday.
Naveen’s family has been living in Chalageri, located in Haveri district, for the past two years, following his father’s retirement. Before that, they lived in Mysuru when Shekhar Gouda was working as a mechanical engineer at The South India Paper Mills Ltd. Naveen’s mother Vijayalaxmi is a homemaker.
“It will be almost 21 days (since Naveen’s death) when the body arrives in India. My mother was particularly affected by Naveen’s death, but she is feeling slightly better after hearing that the body is being brought back to India,” Naveen’s brother Harsha told ThePrint.
“They [Indian authorities] have told us the body is embalmed,” he further said, adding that some villagers and relatives wanted to perform a public funeral ceremony where the body is carried throughout the village.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)