An unbearable sense of grief and suspense has gripped the little hamlet of Brahmakundam in Tamil Nadu's Villiupuram district on Monday evening as nobody is sure as yet whether the body of Simon Paramanandan, the Taliban's victim in Afghanistan, will ever return home at all for the last rites.
As news of the death of the 30-year-old Simon, working as chief cook with an Italian catering company 'Ciano' in heart in Afghanistan and who had been kidnapped by the Taliban last October, reached his native village on Monday, his 23-year-old wife Mrs Vasanthi plunged into a loud wailing as other villagers tried to console her, police from the district headquarters of Villipuram told HT over telephone this evening.
The tragic news of Simon's death, ostensibly "due to poor health", was conveyed by the Taliban abductors to the Indian Embassy in Kabul, who in turn telephonically informed the deceased's another relative, Mr Subramanyam working in Kabul, and his family back in Tamil Nadu, sources said.
A friend of Subramanyam when contacted by the HT Correspondent in Kabul over telephone on Monday evening, broke into tears saying Simon's body was still in Taliban's custody. "The Indian Embassy people told us that only a post-mortem could confirm whether Simon died due to bodily health deterioration in captivity or was killed by the Taliban," he said. Subramanyam was with his company superior officer and could not be spoken to directly, when HT reached them over telephone from Chennai.
However, Subramanyam's friend said that the embassy people also told them that the Taliban had conveyed that they will not release Simon's body unless the authorities freed one of the Taliban's own men in the latter's custody. "It is a very painful situation for us here for we are not even sure whether we will get to see Simon's body," he added weeping over the phone. The Embassy was trying hard to get access to the deceased's body, but to no avail till this evening.
Simon's home back in Brahmakundam was shocked and traumatized by the grief and nobody "is able to talk to the family as yet," Police in Villupuram said. The District Thasildar has sent an emissary to the village to console them and find out the position. Simon has two children, a 10-year-old girl child, Nirmala and an 8-years-old boy Ajith.