NAGERCOIL/CHENNAI: It is an excruciating wait for the family of Innasi Xavier (45), a fisherman from Kovalam in Kanyakumari, whose mortal remains are still languishing in Qatif general hospital in Saudi Arabia even after 40 days since he was reported dead.
Xavier, a migrant fisherman, is survived by wife S Sahaya Westy (35), daughter X. Esiya Roy (12) and son X Bavan Noel (6). He was the sole breadwinner of the family. As if losing him was not enough, the family’s trials and tribulations only got worse when they began their efforts to get his body back to India.
It is alleged that the Embassy of India in Riyadh and Saudi Arabian officials are offering vague excuses and not cooperating with the family in their efforts to get their loved one’s body back.citing an incomplete procedural work.
Xavier, who was working in Saudi for past six years, visited Kanyakumari in November last.
Sahaya Westy told the Express that her brother-in-law Anthony, who also works in Saudi, had completed all formalities and the mortal remains were to arrive on Sunday last, but it didn’t happen.
“We are now told that there is another piece of document needed. The senior police official, who is in charge of Katheep harbour where the incident reportedly happened, had to sign a paper. Saudi officials ask us not to hurry saying bodies of two more Indian nationals who died in various other incidents even before the death of my husband are not yet sent to India”, she grieved, while letting her emotions out.
Meanwhile, K V Prasad, Under-Secretary to the State government, Public Department, on March 3 wrote to the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia and various departments concerned in the Union government to intervene and expedite the transport of the mortal remains of Xavier.
When contacted, the office of Kanyakumari District Collector Sajjansingh Chavan said it was in regular contact with the Indian Embassy and pressing for early repatriation.
In an e-mail response, the Indian Embassy in Riyadh told the International Fishermen Development Trust (INFIDET), a Kanyakumari-based organisation, that the necessary formalities were being completed and NOC would be issued for repatriation duly.
Xavier went missing in the Saudi waters on January 28 and after 9 days his body was fished out of the sea and was kept at Qatif Government Hospital.
But the body did not reach his native village till date even after various efforts made by his relatives. Xavier had reportedly fallen into the sea and went missing on January 28 at Katheep Harbour in Saudi Arabia and his body was fished out only on February 5.
‘Stringent rules AND indiffereNCE’
Director of Coastal Peace and Development Fr. Kildos, who takes up the grievances of fishermen living abroad, has blamed stringent Saudi rules and lacklustre attitude of embassy officials for such delays. “I have helped the Xavier family in preparing all documents over a month ago, but still the family awaits the arrival of body”. According to Saudi Arabian rules, if a non-Muslim dies, the body must be repatriated to the person’s home country as only Muslims may be buried within Saudi. A death certificate issued by Saudi authorities is required to transport a body out of the country, and permission must be granted via the home nation’s embassy.