Shirva (Karnataka), Dec 17 (IANS) Amidst emotional scenes and a pall of gloom, about 5,000 people, including family members, relatives and friends, Monday bid a tearful adieu to Indian-origin nurse Jacintha Saldhana, as her mortal remains were laid to rest in a cemetery in this coastal Karnataka town.
An hour before the solemn funeral, the cortege carrying Saldanha's coffin entered the town after a 30-minute drive from Manipal and was taken to the Our Lady of the Health Church for the memorial service conducted by parish priest, Father Stany Tauro in the presence of family members and relatives.
As there were last-minute changes in the programme, the large contingent of media, which descended on this small town, about 400 km from Bangalore, was caught unawares as the body was not kept outside the church for public to pay homage.
"We made elaborate security arrangements at the church and the cemetery to maintain order and ensure the family members were not mobbed by the media or the public, who came from far and near to attend the funeral," Udupi Superintendent of Police M. Boralingaiah told IANS.
At the behest of the family members, especially husband Benedict Barboza and the two children (Junal and Lisha), local authorities and police appealed to the media not to disturb them during the funeral service and respect their privacy as they were in mourning and not in a position to talk about the circumstances in which Saldanha was forced to take her life.
For security reasons and on family's request, local police kept away the public and the media from following the cortege to Barboza's house in a narrow lane, where his octogenarian mother Carmine and sister Janet live.
Saldanha's body was flown in Mangalore Sunday from London via Mumbai by a private airline and taken to Manipal to keep in the Kasturba medical college hospital mortuary for the night.
A graduate from Father Muller College of Nursing in Mangalore in the mid-1980s, Saldanha first worked at Muscat in Oman for a few years and went to London after marriage to live with Barboza, an accountant in the British National Health Service at Bristol, 190 km from London.
The nurse was found unconscious Dec 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.
Saldanha got unwittingly involved in a hoax call Dec 4 from a radio station in Australia when she was on duty at the hospital where Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton was admitted Dec 3 after she complained of acute morning sickness.
When the jockeys (Mel Greig and Michael Christian) from a Sydney radio station called the hospital early Dec 4 imitating the voice of the queen (Elizabeth) and the prince (Charles), Saldhana picked the call in the absence of the receptionist at that time (5.30 a.m.) and transferred it to another duty nurse who briefed them on the health condition of the royal princess (Kate).
Though Kate was discharged Dec 6, news about the prank call shocked the royal family and caused outrage the world over, especially in the British media.
The autopsy report and an inquest into the cause of her death indicted that Saldanha was found in her room in the hospital quarters with injuries on one wrist.
The British Police also recovered three notes from her room, in which she mentioned about the circumstances in which she received the prank call and how remorseful she was about the incident.
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