Tamil Nadu on Tuesday bade a tearful farewell to Sujith Wilson, the two-year-old who died after falling into an abandoned dry borewell near his house in Nadukattupatti village in Tiruchi district,
After four days of Herculean efforts, Sujith was officially declared dead by former Health Secretary and present Principal Transport Secretary J Radhakrishna at 2.30 a.m. on Tuesday. He was buried at a cemetery soon after.
Dr Radhakrishnan, who has earned a reputation as an expert in disaster relief management, made the announcement after a Fire Service Personnel got into a parallel well near the one where Sujith lay, came up with a sample rock in the area and reported stench was emanating from the site.
The body was recovered two hours later, at 4.30 a.m.. It was straightway taken to Manapparai Government Hospital for post-mortem. From there, it was taken straight away to a cemetery in Fatima Puthur, their native village where Sujith was buried.
As the body was highly decomposed, it was not shown to the public. It was covered in a white shroud. Besides his parents Aryogyaraj and Kalamary, only officials were around at the cemetery and they lay wreaths at the tomb.
While Kalamary was inconsolable, Aryogyaraj looked sombre, with his second son in his arms.
But the entire State joined them in their hour of grief with social media platforms were flooded with messages and prayers with one hoping that Sujith would emerge from Mother Earth’s womb in a kind of second birth.
Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who was present for the past two days at the rescue cite, left after the death was officially announced. Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami, in his condolence message, said he would visit the bereaved family soon.
Leader of the Opposition M K Stalin was among the first to visit the burial ground to pay his homage. He later called on the boy’s parents and offered his condolences. He handed over to them a cheque for Rs 10 lakh, solatium from the DMK.
Talking to reporters later, Stalin said he stayed away the past four days as he did not want to politicise the issue. However, like thousands of others, he followed the developments minute by minute on the television channels.
He said from opinions offered by experts, it appeared that it was initial delay on the part of the Tamil Nadu Government in calling the National Disaster Response Force which cost Sujith his life.
Dr Radhakrishnan called the NDRF commander Rekha Nambiar in the early hours of Saturday, nearly ten hours after the boy slipped through a rope that tied his hands and fell deeper into the pit to a depth of 88 ft.
But even NDRF could not rescue him from the narrow well. By Saturday morning, when his breathing sound was last, it was all over. But Radhakrishnan as well Health Minister C Vijayabhaskar said as late as midnight Tuesday that rescue efforts would go on till the very end.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in a tweet, offered his condolences to the bereaved family. Rahul tweeted ''I’m sorry to hear about the passing of baby Sujith. My condolences to his grieving parents and his family''.