Seven months after her death and two days after her body arrived at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Nalapudi Pallalamma’s body was handed over to her family here on Tuesday.
Her family had to wait for eight hours at the airport as custom officials caused a delay, citing formalities for clearance as the reason.
Pallalamma (56), a native of Kothapeta in East Godavari, had gone to work as a domestic labourer in Riyadh on April 24, 2011 and breathed her last at a hospital on 27 May 2012.
“The body was kept in Riyadh for 218 days, after which it was sent to Hyderabad without any sort of intimation to us. Both, Saudi Arabia airlines and the Indian embassy, acted irresponsibly,” said M Bheem Reddy, vice president of Migrants Rights Council.
The body arrived at RGIA on Dec 31, 2012 at 11.59 am, after which Reddy informed Pallalamma’s husband, Nalapudi Veriyya. He arrived at the airport on Tuesday at 7.30 am. “Custom officials kept them waiting for hours together, trying to extract money out of them as the dead body had arrived with Pallalamma’s luggage,” Reddy said.
But since Veriyya could not afford to pay the amount, he requested Saudi airline officials to waive the charge, who agreed to do so. Pallalamma’s body too was sent free of cost.
“This is not just one stray case. There are several bodies which have to be sent back here. The Indian embassy in Riyadh is very apathetic to such cases. I have sent a written complaint to SM Krishna, minister for external affairs, Valayar Ravi, minister for overseas Indian affairs and a copy to the Prime Minister’s office,” Reddy said.
In his letter, Reddy alleged that the Indian ambassador in Riyadh, Hamid Ali was not doing anything to send back bodies of the deceased to India, and was not even demanding a post-mortem of the bodies to ascertain if the death was a murder. “Dead bodies are piling up there, and if this matter is ignored, it will become a big issue,” said Reddy.