Jacintha Saldanha’s grieving husband and two teenage children clutched each other tightly today as they gathered with hundreds of mourners in a small town in India for her funeral.
Friends and family paid their respects to the 46-year-old nurse who was duped by a hoax call during a simple ceremony in Shirva, some 30 miles north of Mangalore on the south-west coast.
Earlier, crowds lined the roads close to the Catholic church to pay their respects while relatives attended a private prayer ceremony at her home.
‘My wife, you were the light in my darkness, who always showed me the way forward. From the day we met, you always stood by me in times of hardship and happiness. I feel a part of me has been ripped out’
Jacintha Saldanha’s husband Ben Barboza, 49
Authorities in India are understood to have made extensive arrangements – upping security and setting up barricades – to accommodate crowds of mourners touched by Ms Saldanha’s death.
Jesuit priest Fr Richard Rego, who has worked in the region for more than a decade, said the close-knit town had been left in shock.
‘The local community were jolted,’ he said. ‘They are now coming together to support the family.’
Mr Barboza is understood to be spending Christmas with his family in Shirva as he comes to terms with his wife’s death.
Saying goodbye: Jacintha Saldanha’s widower Ben Barboza (centre) and her children Lisha (left) and Junal (right) stand next to her coffin
The town of Shirva, in the Karnataka district, is famous in the largely agricultural region for producing jasmine and granite.
Ms Saldanha’s family made the journey to India yesterday with her hessian-covered coffin for her funeral, as it emerged that she left a note for the two Australian radio DJs behind the recent prank.
The senior nurse, who blamed Mel Greig, 30, and Michael Christian, 25, of 2Day FM for her death, is also said to have been involved in a long-running ‘personal disagreement’ with a junior colleague.
Ms Saldanha’s body was kept at her 49-year-old husband Ben Barboza’s home in the town of Shirva, Karnataka, for a few hours today before being taken to the church for a prayer service and burial.
Distraught: Ben Barboza (left and right), husband of nurse Jacintha Saldanha, arrives earlier today to examine the scene at the graveyard where his wife will be buried, in Shriva, north of Mangalore, in India
The 46-year-old nurse was found hanged at her nurses’ accommodation at the King Edward VII Hospital in London, where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for severe morning sickness.
One of three suicide notes suggests that before the prank call, Mrs Saldanha was ‘unhappy’ that following a misdemeanour by a subordinate the hospital had decided not to discipline her colleague.
A family friend said: ‘Jacintha was involved in a personal disagreement with a colleague several weeks before the prank call.
‘The hospital had decided not to take any formal action but to put the two nurses on separate shifts. Jacintha made clear her disappointment and that she was not happy.
‘She felt the hospital should have taken a tougher line. She was critical of that.’
In the short letter she apparently singled out two individuals for blame.
It also emerged that after she had unwittingly put DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian through to another nurse, one called back and told her they had played a prank which they were about to broadcast.
That is believed to have left her feeling confused and agitated. At a memorial service in Westminster Cathedral on Saturday, her husband Benedict Barboza said his wife’s death had left him devastated.
The couple’s son Junal, 17, and adopted daughter Lisha, 14, also paid tribute before travelling with her body to Mangalore.
Ms Saldanha’s funeral took place today at 4pm local time (10am GMT), said her family, who arrived at Bajpe Airport in Mangalore yesterday
Her coffin also arrived in India yesterday. It came after Ms Saldanha’s children described the ‘unfillable void’ left in their lives by their mother’s death as a mass was held at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday.
Following the service in central London, Jacintha’s husband, NHS accountant Ben Barboza, 49, and two children Junal, 17, and Lisha, 14, paid an emotional tribute to a ‘kind-hearted, generous and well-respected woman’.
Mr Barboza said: ‘My wife, you were the light in my darkness, who always showed me the way forward. From the day we met, you always stood by me in times of hardship and happiness.
‘I feel a part of me has been ripped out,’ he added, fighting back tears. ‘Without your beautiful smile and sparkling personality, the house is an empty place to live.
‘Nineteen years of togetherness with a strong bond of affection and understanding will be cherished forever in my life. Your loss is a very painful one and nobody can take that place in my life ever again. I love you and miss you forever.’
Ms Saldanha’s daughter Lisha, 14, said: ‘We will miss your laughter, the loving memories and the good times we had together. The house is an empty dwelling without your presence.
‘We are shattered and there’s an unfillable void in our lives.
‘We love you mum, sleep in peace and watch over us until me meet again in heaven. We will always love you and keep you close to our heart.’
Her son Junal said: ‘Our mother, kind hearted, generous and a well-respected woman in both of our lives. You were the core of the family who kept is together.
‘In times of difficulty you showed us the way forward to happiness and success. Your priority for us was a good education and a bright future. You taught us right from wrong which we appreciate.
‘You worked tirelessly to give us everything that we have today. When we achieved good grades and merit, your pat on our backs encouraged us more.’
Standing outside the cathedral alongside their local MP Charlotte Leslie and MP Keith Vaz, who has been campaigning on behalf of the family, Mr Barboza said the family ‘could not have foreseen the unprecedented tragedy that has unfolded in our lives’.
‘In times of difficulty you showed us the way forward to happiness and success. Your priority for us was a good education and a bright future. You taught us right from wrong’
Jacintha Saldanha’s son Junal, 16
‘The events of the last week have shattered our lives. We barely have the strength to withstand the grief and sorrow.’
He thanked the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prime Minister David Cameron for their condolences.
Memorial services have already been held at the hospital where Ms Saldanha worked and in Bristol where her husband and children live.
Indian-born Ms Saldanha left two notes in her room and also had marks on her wrist when her body was discovered, Westminster Coroner’s Court in London heard on Thursday.
A provisional date of March 26 has been set for the next inquest hearing.
John Lofthouse, the King Edward VII’s Hospital chief executive, has said the nurse was reassured on a number of occasions by senior management after the hoax.
The DJs behind the call – Mel Greig and Michael Christian – gave an emotional account of their reaction to Ms Saldanha’s death.
Interviewed on Australian TV networks, the presenters said their prank call to the hospital prompted ‘a tragic turn of events no-one could have predicted or expected’.
Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), the parent company of 2Day FM, ended the pair’s Hot 30 show and suspended prank calls across the company.