HYDERABAD: Why is it so difficult to transport the mortal remains of someone who has died an unnatural death in another country? Kin of the deceased stare at a harrowing amount of work —from embalming to obtaining myriad certificates—which often prove a little too much for them to do in face of personal tragedy. This often compels families to approach the Ministry of External Affairs for help with the documentation, especially the finances involved.
For instance, if someone passes away in the United States of America, the fee to repatriate the body ranges from $1,000 to $3,000 ( nearly `70,000 to `2.1 lakh). “This can depend upon the requirements for shipping and whether embalming is required. Secondly, there are the costs of the actual freight or transportation,” a website called US Funerals says, in reference to India. Along with the embalming comes the need for sealed caskets so that nothing leaks out. In such cases, families are left with option of either buying a metal-lined casket costing them around `50,000 or a bio-sealed aluminium bag worth `21,000.
This whole process usually takes 2-4 weeks to complete due to the presence of local procedures. However, the issue gets all the more complicated if the death is due to unnatural causes. “If the death was due to unnatural causes and investigations are ongoing to ascertain the cause of death, it may take significantly longer, depending upon progress in the investigations,” says the Ministry of External Affairs website.
Now comes the question of flight charges, which airlines charge at a flat rate per kilogram—including the casket/bag, and the body itself. As for the charge of the actual transport is in itself, quite high. However, in some cases the Indian Embassy bears all expenses of transportation by Air India if the family finds it difficult to pay for it.
These huge impending expenses are some of the major reasons why many choose to perform the funeral rites of their deceased in abroad itself. But MEA says that most countries allow last rites abroad itself, only in case of Muslims.
Non-Muslims need to be repatriated for last rites
Ministry of External Affairs says that most countries allow funeral rites abroad itself, only in the case of Muslims. Local burial also requires the consent of legal heirs of the deceased. In the case of non-Muslims, the mortal remains are required to be repatriated to their home countries