Mangalore: The body of Indian-origin nurse Jacintha Saldanha, who was found hanging at her apartment in London on December 7, has reached Mangalore - near her hometown Shirva in coastal Karnataka. Family sources said the nurse would be buried at her hometown on Monday. "The coffin carrying Jacintha's body will be taken to Shirva on Monday for last rites and funeral at the local cemetery around 4 pm," Udupi Superintendent of Police M Boralingaiah said, citing family sources.
Jacintha's husband Benedict Barboza and her son Junal,16, and daughter Lisha,14, have accompanied the coffin from London. "The coffin will be kept in Mangalore for the night at a mortuary or a place the family will decide. The place could also be the residence of Jacintha's mother, who lives in a suburb of Mangalore with her son and another daughter," Boralingaiah said.
Security arrangements have been made in Mangalore and at Shirva to maintain law and order and ensure no untoward incident takes place. "We estimate about 5,000 people to attend Jacintha's funeral at Shirva, including VIPs and local officials. The coffin will first be taken to the local church for mass and then to the Catholic cemetery for burial," Boralingaiah said, quoting the family.
Mangalore diocese Vicar General Dennis Prabhu and Mangalore Archbishop Aloysius Paul D'Souza will hold a prayer service in the local cathedral on Sunday evening where both the families, their relatives and friends will be present. Saldanha, who graduated from Father Muller College of Nursing in Mangalore in the mid-1980s, first worked at Muscat in Oman for a few years and went to London after marriage 15 years ago to live with Barboza, an accountant in the British National Health Service at Bristol, 190km from London.
Jacintha was found unconscious on December 7 morning in the quarters of King Edward VII Hospital in central London where she was working as a senior nurse, and was pronounced dead when wheeled into the hospital in an ambulance. Jacintha got unwittingly involved in a hoax call on December 4 from a radio station in Australia when she was on duty at the hospital where Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middletown was admitted on December 3 after she complained of acute morning sickness.
When the jockeys (Mel Greig and Michael Christian) from Sydney radio station called the hospital early on December 4 imitating the voice of the queen (Elizabeth) and the prince (Charles), Jacintha picked the call in the absence of the receptionist at that time (5.30 am) and transferred it to another duty nurse who briefed them on the health condition of the royal princess (Kate). Though Kate was discharged on December 6, news about the prank call shocked the royal family and caused outraged the world over, especially in the British media.
Three suicide notes were recovered from Jacintha's quarter. She had criticised the hospital staff and the radio hosts in the letters. On the basis of the suicide note, Jacintha's family has been demanding an independent probe into the case.
Taking a note of the incident, Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Oscar Fernandes promised that the Indian government will take up the hoax call issue with the Australian authorities. "We will express our disappointment with Australia, impersonation is a serious thing. We will take it up with the Foreign Affairs Ministry," he said.
(With additional information from IANS)