Lots of Indian bodies in Saudi morgues

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At least 150 bodies of residents of Telangana and Andhra Pradeshare piling up at mortuaries in Saudi Arabia for nearly a year with families unable to bring them back to Hyderabad for last rites.

The Indian embassy in Riyadh has been of little help. Despite letters from Ministry of External Affairs to the embassy, nothing moved. MEA officials express helplessness, citing frigid Saudi employers who refuse to reply to emails or phone calls. Cause of deaths are usually attributed to illness, accidents, murders and suicides.

Thousands of workers from Hyderabad, Karimnagar, Warangal, Mahbubnagar, Nizamabad, in Telangana, and a few from Andhra districts are employed in the Gulf+ . Statistics with the Telugu community suggest over 10 lakh people from the two states are employed in Saudi Arabia. Speaking to TOI over phone, a computer programmer, Mohd Taher, hailing from Musheerabad area of the city and working at Dammam, said the procedure of sending coffins home are plagued by red tape.

In May, a woman from the Old City, Asima, was allegedly tortured to death by her employer. The NRI cell in the Telangana secretariat wrote to the Indian embassy in Riyadh. But it was a volunteers group which helped expedite return of Asima’s body, which was sent to Hyderabad on May 20. “This actually took less time. There are cases where bodies are lying in morgues for eight months as families can’t pursue employers or MEA officials,” said Taher.

In an accident case, the body could be sent only after 40 days. “Since the procedures are so cumbersome, a woman who came to visit her son had to be buried in Saudi,” said Taher.
Recently, the body of B Chandraiah who died of heart attack was flown from Dammam after the intervention of Telangana Jagruthi volunteers. Laws are stringent in Saudi Arabia. In murder or accident cases, local authorities release the body only after the investigation into the case is over. In such cases, it may take 60-90 days,” said Nizamabad MP, Kalvakuntla Kavitha, who responded to a tweet from Kranthi Bathini of Siddipet for assistance to bring home the body of his uncle.

In Chandraiah’s case, he died of heart attack but the employer refused to bear the expenses of sending the body to India. “Recently, body of a Nizamabad resident arrived, six months after his death in Saudi,” said Kranthi. Saudi kafils or employers are the biggest hurdle. Since it could cost them anywhere between Rs 4 lakh and Rs 6 lakh, they have no interest to help. “All that the Indian embassy in Riyadh does is write to local police.When cops don’t respond, nothing is done,” says Mohd Amjed Ullah Khan, Majlis Bachao Tehreek leader from Old City. Non-Muslims are worst hit as they have few friends or relatives to help. They also have a problem with the local language, he said.

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. This makes the situation difficult.

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