After lying in a morgue for over 16 months, the remains of Fr Bismarque Dias will finally be laid to rest. While the date is yet to be confirmed, this is likely to bring some closure to the mysterious death of priest turned activist, Fr Bismarque.
Based on a petition filed by activist Adv Aires Rodrigues, the Goa Human Rights Commission (GHRC) has directed authorities to ensure that Fr Bismarque is accorded last rites at the earliest.
The GHRC bench comprising of A.D.Salkar and J.A Keny has directed the North Goa Collector, to issue directives to the concerned authorities to liaise with the Parish Priest of St Estevam and to arrange the last rights of Fr Bismarque, whose body has been lying in the GMC morgue since November 7, 2015.
The petition points out that as all the forensic tests have been completed and since the viscera report has been received, the mortal remains are not required for any further examination and that the last rites cannot wait any longer.
Why hasn’t Fr Bismarque been laid to rest as yet?
The death of the activist-priest under suspicious circumstances has been labelled by the Goa police as a case of accidental drowning. That decision had elicited cries of disbelief from friends and family of Fr Bismarque, who refused to claim and bury the body until there is a fair investigation.
Friends and family had and continue to believe that Fr Bismarque’s death was murder because a little before his death, he had filed a case before the National Green Tribunal, an environmental court, against proposed constructions violating the rules on building in coastal zones.
His environmental campaigns had included protests against several land-intensive projects in Goa, such as a golf course at Tiracol, a controversial Greenfield airport at Mopa and an electronic city at Tuem.
His vocal environmental activism had earned the late priest several death threats, which became the foundation for his friends and family to completely disbelieve the police’s claim that Fr Bismarque’s death was accidental.
What the police say about Fr Bismarque’s death
According to the police, Bismarque drowned somewhere in the intervening night of November 5 and 6, when he allegedly went swimming after a bout of drinking with two male acquaintances, one of whom was a minor. The body was discovered on November 7 , washed up near a sluice gate at St Estevam, an island village where the priest hailed from, located 15 kms from Panaji.
The jury is still out on how he may have died, or been killed. Discussions between people often turn into heated debates and vehement arguments. There is still a whole spectrum of theories related to how the Roman Catholic priest could have met his end along the muddy fringes of the Mandovi river in November, 2015.
Is there still a supernatural angle to the death?
According to then Deputy Inspector General of Police V Renganathan, Fr Bismarque, after drinking beer, had waded into the water to dispel the fear of ghosts, which his two companions had claimed haunt the very area where they had gone drinking.
“They said that in that area, there is a ghost there and we do not want to go there. But he told them that nothing is there and then he went swimming and they slept there. In the morning they did not find him and went to their house,” said DIG Renganathan to the First Post
“We are approaching the particular matter with an open mind,” Renganathan had said.
However Fr Bismarque’s activist colleague Sudeep Dalvi debunks the police account.
“This ghost story is all humbug. Fr Bismarque had better things to do and worry about than ghost-busting. He was also a very good swimmer,” said Sudeep.
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