MEA denies apathy in bringing back mortal remains of Indians dying in Saudi Arabia

The MEA Spokesperson said that there are more than 2 million Indians who are living and working in Saudi Arabia.

Published: 23rd December 2016 05:46 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd December 2016 05:50 PM   |  A+A-

Vikas Swarup-twitter

Picture Courtesy | @MEAIndia

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Friday downplayed the report of 150 bodies of people from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh lying in Saudi Arabia owing to the apathy of the Indian Embassy there.

Claiming that the real number was nowhere close to the 150 bodies, the MEA attributed the delay in getting the mortal remains of Indian back from Saudi Arabia to procedural delays. Media reports have claimed that at least 150 bodies of residents of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh were in lying in the mortuaries in the Kingdom country and the families have been awaiting mortal remains for over a year as Saudi employer refuse to answer their emails or phone calls.

“This report is completely factually misleading.  The report refers to 150 bodies from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.  In reality, there are only about ten cases that pertain to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.  And the total number of bodies is nowhere near that number,” MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said. He contended that the report had failed to appreciate the “context” of the Diaspora community in Saudi Arabia and the “procedure involved” in death cases.

The MEA Spokesperson said that there are more than 2 million Indians who are living and working in Saudi Arabia.  On average, 3-4 death cases are registered every day on account of natural reasons, in these ‘clear’ cases it takes around three weeks to send mortal remains even if the documents are in order.  “In cases of unnatural death, like suicide, murder and industrial accident, and also in those cases wherein the families doubt the circumstances of death, the investigation procedure is very lengthy, causing delay in completion of documentation or transportation of mortal remains,” Swarup added.

According to the report, four letters are required to be submitted to Indian embassy in Riyadh to let the body be flown back to the country. These include medical and police reports, a consent letter from the family and a declaration that no monetary assistance would be demanded either from Saudi government or the employer.

“In some cases, the families demand release of compensation first, before the dispatch of the mortal remains, whereas compensation is a legal process and takes year. In other cases of delay, DNA samples from the families back home are needed to identify the body and complete the local procedures,” Swarup clarified, while adding: “So at any given time there would be a number of cases, of all categories, being processed. The Embassy proactively follows all death cases on top priority.”

A Kafala System is followed in Saudi Arabia, whereby the sponsors are responsible to complete the paper work and dispatch the mortal remains to India. This also adds to the delay, as sometimes the employers who are the sponsors refuse to fund the transportation.


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