“I hope my father is cremated with full honor and dignity,” said Ranshu Wali (25), the daughter of Kuldeep Wali who died of a massive heart attack in Antarctica.
Ranshu was at home in Delhi mourning her father's death. The last rites of Wali, an assistant meteorological officer (research) with the Indian Metrological Department who was on an expedition to the world’s southernmost continent, will be performed in Antarctica.
Wali died on Monday.
About 98 per cent of Antarctica is covered with ice of average1.6 kilometres thickness.
Blizzards in the region made it impossible to bring his body back to India for the last rites.
“We have been told by the government that his body cannot be brought back to the family,” said Shuban Wali, Kuldeep’s younger brother who is an agriculturalist. “As we have no choice but to believe them, we hope that they will perform his cremation properly according to Hindu rites.”
Science and Technology Minister Prithviraj Chavan has promised to provide a live recording of the cremation to the family which wants to witness the cremation.
“We just hope we will get the recording, live or not live,” said Rajendra Kachroo, brother-in-law of the scientist.
Wali’s family had other concerns on mind too.
Wali was the sole bread earner of the family and, with his death, the family has been left without a house and means of income.
“I hope the government will let me retain the government quarter we are staying in, as we have nowhere to go,” said Rita Wali, Kuldeep’s wife, while displaying the letter she received from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “Also, I hope that a job will be provided to my daughter who has just completed her master’s in computer application.”
Wali’s mother was praying to a photograph of Sai Baba. “Though I am very proud of my son, nothing can replace the void in my life now,” she said in Kashmiri.