The family of Catholic priest James Mukalel, who was found dead on the roadside in Karnataka's Dakshin Kannada district earlier this week, have decided to go in for another post-mortem to ascertain the cause of his death.
The 38-year-old's body is now at the St. Sebastian's Church at Vellad in Kannur district and the last rites would be performed on Saturday by a team of priests, said Deny George, a family friend of Mukalel.
"Once the service gets over, the body will be taken to the Government Medical College at Kozhikode for another post-mortem because close relatives, including his parents and his brother Tomy, feel there is something wrong," George, an advocate by profession, told IANS.
"The body has already undergone a post-mortem in Mangalore and arrived in Kannur on Friday evening. As and when the body comes back from the hospital, it would be buried in the cemetery at St. Sebastian's Church," he said.
Mukalel's naked body was lying at a distance from his motorbike on which he was returning to Kutrupady near Belthangady in Dakshina Kannada after attending the funeral of another parish priest in the adjacent Charmadi village.
The young priest was recently posted at St. Mary's Church at Kutrupady after a three-year service at Thotthady near Belthangady.
The police in Karnataka have already registered a case of unnatural death. The body did not bear external wounds or signs of attack. The coastal district police have formed a team to investigate the priest's death as there was no pillion-rider with him or witness to give an account of the incident.
The coastal district had witnessed a spate of attacks last year on churches and chapels by Hindu activists protesting alleged forcible conversions by missionaries and priests.