December 15th, 2016
150 Indian Dead Bodies Lie In Saudi Arabia Morgues For A Year
Around 150 dead bodies of residents of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are piled up at mortuaries in Saudi Arabia for nearly a year. This has caused much distress to their families who are unable to bring the deceased back to Hyderabad to perform the last rites.
Times Of India reported that the Indian embassy in Riyadh has not been able to do much despite sending repeated letters from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to the embassy. MEA has been helpless in the matter since the Saudi employers haven’t responded to phone calls or emails.
Illness, accidents, murders, and suicides have been responsible for most of the deaths. According to statistics, more than 10 lakh people from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are working in Saudi Arabia.
Mohd Taher, a computer programmer, working in Dammam, Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, told the Times Of India that red tape plagues the procedure of sending coffins back home to India.
In May, employers tortured 25-year-old Asima Khatoon from Hyderabad to death. It was not the Indian embassy but a volunteers group which helped expedite the return of her body. Taher also told that in several cases, bodies have been in morgues for eight months as families can’t pursue employers or MEA officials.
In the case of accidental death, the body can be sent only after 40 days. In murder or accident cases, local authorities release the body only after the investigation into the case is over. This may take 60-90 days.
The biggest hurdle is dealing with the Saudi employers. Since it could cost them anywhere between Rs 4 lakh and Rs 6 lakh, they have no interest to help. Non-Muslims face more difficulties as they barely have any friends or relatives there to help.
Four letters are required to be submitted to the Indian embassy in Riyadh to fly back the body. 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 process also makes the situation difficult.
Thousands of Indians working in Saudi Arabia face many difficulties to stay in the country. Many times, the Indian employees don’t get paid by their employers. Many times they barely manage to survive. The employers have also enslaved many people who were duped by dishonest agents who promised lucrative jobs. Reports like these truly reveal the appalling state of a large group of Indians staying in Saudi Arabia.
The Logical Indian urges the Ministry of External Affairs to urge the Saudi government to look into this matter and make sure that the bodies of the deceased are sent back to India.