Rashmi Rekha Das

Potapokhari Paisa Durga Puja Committee in Cuttack paid tributes to ace journalist of Odisha Television Network (OTV), Arindam Das in a unique way during the immersion ceremony of Goddess Durga on Thursday. 

Arindam died in a freak boat mishap while covering an operation launched by the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) to rescue a wild tusker which was stranded in water at the Mundali barrage on September 24. 

Apart from Arindam, the puja committee also paid homage to ODRAF jawan Sitaram Murmu who died in the same elephant rescue operation. He was onboard the ill-fated boat that was caught, and subsequently capsized, in the strong currents of Mahanadi river on the fateful day.

While OTV’s Chief Reporter Arindam Das lost his life in the mishap on the spot, Murmu had gone missing. Later, some locals had spotted the body of Murmu near Kakhadi in Athagarh area 24 hours after the incident and contacted the ODRAF team.

The puja authorities made a large flex banner and carried it along during the immersion procession of Goddess Durga.  

Although a year has elapsed since the tragedy, Odisha people still keep remembering the bravehearts. While Arindam had carved a niche in the field of journalism for his daredevil reporting from ground zero,  Murmu had undertaken many risky rescue operations in the line of duty in the past and saved scores of lives. Keeping the contribution of the bravehearts for society in mind, the Puja organisers decided to pay tribute to the duo.

One of the Puja committee members said, “People might have forgotten Arindam Das and Sitaram Murmu who had lost their lives during Gajaraj operation, but we don’t. Recently death anniversary of the OTV’s chief journalist was held in his village.  It’s an attempt to make people remember them and their contributions to the society.”