‘Dead’ man Saji told the police he left the house on September 3 over a quarrel with his neighbour and did not keep in touch with his family since.
On October 16, a family in Aadikolly, Wayanad, buried the decomposed body of their 48-year-old son at St Sebastian Church. However, 15 days later, on October 31, they received the shock of their life when their son Saji returned home after allegedly going missing for nearly 62 days. The body they had buried was not their flesh and blood.
On September 3, Saji, a labourer, left his home in Aadikolly in Pulpally and had been, reportedly, missing since then. The family, however, did not file a missing person complaint. On October 13, Beechanahalli police station in Karnataka contacted Pulpally police station, which is its border police station, informing them about a decomposed body of an unidentified person.
“A few weeks ago, Saji’s younger brother Jinesh was summoned to the Pulpally station in relation to a case,” Prajeesh, a Civil Police Officer at the station, said.
“While Jinesh was at the station, we received a call from Beechanahalli police station, enquiring if we had received any missing person complaint. We had no missing cases in our record then. Jinesh, who heard the conversation, told us that his elder brother had been missing for three weeks. He said he would like to see the body. We then alerted the Beechanahali police station. After completing the necessary formalities, he was let off on bail,” the CPO said.
Jinesh and Saji’s mother Philomena then reached Mananthavady hospital in Wayanad to identify the body. “The family claimed that Saji had an injury mark on his leg. The slippers, too, resembled the ones that he wore. Besides, Jinesh told us that Saji used to frequently travel to Karnataka,” the CPO added.
Once the family identified the body to be Saji’s, the Beechanahalli police handed over the body to the family. After post-mortem and other formalities, the decomposed body was buried on October 16 at the St Sebastian church, where Saji and his family are parishioners.
According to the police, Jinesh claims to have received Saji’s death certificate from Karnataka. On Wednesday evening, Saji, who was claimed to be dead, reached the station, along with the brother.
In his statement to the police, Saji said, “I left the house on September 3 over a quarrel with my neighbour. Since I do not have a phone, I was not in contact with my family and hence that led them to believe that I was dead. I was doing labour work in several parts of Kannur. I reached Aadikolly on October 31 by 4 pm.”
Since Saji could not be contacted directly, media contacted his brother. The latter, however, was evidently infuriated over the whole episode. “I am a busy man. My life does not revolve around Saji. I have incurred a huge monetary loss because of burying a wrong man,” he said.
The Pulpally police station has informed the Beechanahali police station, which would take the matter forward.
An office-bearer of St Sebastian church said the parish has not received any information on retrieving the body from the burial ground. “The police can take the body; we will not stop them,” he said.
A police official at Beechanahalli police station, meanwhile, said that the body has been cremated and not buried. “We have the photo of the decomposed body. We will send it to other police stations to see if there are any missing cases,” he said.