The controversy erupted after a Malayalam channel broke the story that KR Narayanan's tomb was found in a Christian cemetery in Delhi.

What the row over ex-President KR Narayanans Christian burial is all aboutPTI Image
news Controversy Tuesday, August 01, 2017 - 09:50

As Ram Nath Kovind was sworn in as India's 14th President last month, he also became the second Dalit President of the country, after KR Narayanan. 

Cut to a tomb at a Christian cemetery in New Delhi, where the names of two people are engraved on it in black. The names are that of Uma Narayanan, the former first lady of India and KR Narayanan, the former President of India. 

It was the Malayalam channel Janam TV and Malayalam daily Janmabhoomi- both backed by RSS- which reported that KR Narayanan had embraced Christianity. 

While the central government had laid to rest the late President with due honours, by the Yamuna, what is the intention of this second burial, at a cemetery? questioned the reporter of Janam TV. Who gave permission for this? he asked. 

While cemetery officials reportedly told the channel that only Christians were allowed to be buried there, the reporter soon made the inference that KR Narayanan could not have been allowed to be buried, if he were a Hindu. 

Did he convert to Christianity at some point in his life or was the burial done because of somebody else's wishes? 

Narayanan passed away in 2005 and the cemetery, run by Delhi Cemeteries Committee is located on Prithviraj Road. His wife Usha (born Ma Tint Tint) passed away three years later in 2008.

Soon, the channel also brought on board, Narayanan’s relative, who vouched that he had been a Hindu till his death and that the family had no knowledge whatsoever about the existence of such a tomb. 

The Janam TV report was followed up by Outlook the following day and they published a story- Was India's First Dalit President K.R. Narayanan Really A Christian?

Quoting Rev. J. Rebello of the Catholic church, who is also the chairman of Delhi Cemeteries Committee, Outlook reported on the possible reason why the burial must have happened. "The burial happened because the Christian pastor of his wife, a protestant, could have vouched that Narayanan is a Christian," Rev. Rebello was quoted as saying. 

With several other online publications picking up the "Narayanan was a Christian" theory, another news website AltNews published an article on July 28, in which, they termed the reports as "malicious attempts to portray Narayanan as a Christian." 

In the article, they also alleged that several online publications were publishing the story "in an attempt to portray Ram Nath Kovind as the first Dalit President." 

As the controversy escalated, Narayan's daughter Chithra spoke to several media outlets including The Indian Express. 

"After his cremation as per Hindu rites, part of the ashes were immersed in the Ganga, a part taken to Kerala and immersed in the Bharathapuzha river by his brother KR Bhaskaran (a close associate of the BJP), a part mingled with those of his parents and a small portion was buried alongside his wife when she died”, Narayanan’s family told The Indian Express.

Narayan's daughters Amrita and Chithra told IE that their mother had wished to be buried along with her late husband's ashes and that it was a private wish that should be respected. 

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