The last rites of OTV's Chief Reporter Arindam Das were performed at his ancestral village at Raikala in Keonjhar on the banks of River Baitarani on Saturday.
Arindam’s body was taken to his village on Friday night after his colleagues and friends paid their tributes to him at at OTV office the same evening.
The atmosphere was grim and his family and friends at the village burst into tears when his body reached at around 4:20 am on Saturday.
Arindam’s sister was inconsolable. She rued that a precious life was lost while rescuing an elephant and also questioned why her brother was allowed to go with the ODRAF team.
Akshaya Narayan Mishra, uncle of Arindam said, "He had created a special identity for himself as a well-known and fearless journalist in the State. We can not believe he is no more."
"He lost his life while discharging his duty. His death is an irreparable loss for us as well as for our region," said Arindam's paternal uncle Dharanidhar Das.
One of his college friends, Siddheswar Sahu said, “Arindam was an NCC cadet and represented Odisha at the RDC Parade in Delhi. He always spares time from his busy schedule as a journalist to think and act on ways to develop his village and the Keonjhar district.”
Being a celebrity journalist, not only in Raikala, but many of his fans and well-wishers gathered at Chandikhol, Kuakhia in Jajpur and Keonjhar town to get a glimpse of their favourite media person for the last time.
Death condolence meetings were held and tributes were paid at several places by fellow journalists in Soro, Jagatsinghpur, Puri, Jaleswar, Konark and other places.
Ghasipura MLA Badri Narayan Patra and Patna MLA Jagannath Naik were present at the funeral to pay floral tributes to Arindam.
“He (Arindam) was an able son of Keonjhar and everybody including me is crestfallen at his demise. He was a daredevil journalist and we are all fans of his reportage,” said Patra while speaking to the media.
“I wish God gives enough strength to his family to recover from the loss,” he added.
Patna MLA Jagannath Naik, who studied in the same school as Arindam and a dear friend of him, was visibly upset at the funeral. “This is sad for us. This is really distressing to lose such a promising young man who has become a celebrity across households with his daredevil reporting from ground zero,” said Naik.
Arindam died in a freak boat mishap while covering an operation launched by the ODRAF to rescue a wild tusker which was stranded at the Mundali barrage. Arindam and video journalist Prabhat Sinha were the two crew from OTV who were onboard the ill-fated boat that was caught, and subsequently capsized, in the strong currents of Mahanadi river.
The Odisha Television (OTV) Limited announced a compensation of Rs 20 lakh to the bereaved family. While announcing the compensation, Managing Director of OTV Jagi Panda said, "Losing Arindam is a colossal loss not only for me but for our entire organisation. There will never be another Arindam."