Kerala-couple approached SC for repatriation; pregnant wife returns, husband dies
For Indians stranded in Dubai, 29-year-old Nithin Chandran, who hails from Kerala became a blessing. He helped those who lost their jobs or who couldn't return home due to coronavirus-induced restrictions. However, in an unfortunate turn of events, he passed away on Monday, a month after sending his pregnant wife Athira Geetha Sreedharan home. The couple had earlier approached the Supreme Court seeking repatriation.
Nithin and Athira earned headlines in the Gulf city in April, for knocking the doors of India's top court. They wanted Athira to return home before her first delivery in July. Though the plea didn't have a concrete impact, Athira was among the first batch of Indians to be repatriated from Dubai as part of the Vande Bharat Mission, which began last month.
As she boarded the plane, Athira called it the "flight of her life". "I had thought this won't happen. It is unbelievable that finally, it's coming true. I am happy and thankful to everyone who supported me," she had told Gulf News. INCAS, the expat organization which helped the couple with the petition in SC, sponsored her ticket. Nithin had said he was obliged.
"We didn't want financial support for the ticket. But when they offered it as a gift for her, I felt morally responsible to offer free tickets to at least two others who are really in need. I will be doing that," he had said.
When asked why he stayed back, Nithin, who worked at a construction company, told TNIE there were more needy people. "We have only a limited number of flights and should facilitate people who are in dire straits to reach home. I wanted to accompany my wife but decided to stay back seeing the plight of the people who lost jobs," he had said.
After sending his seven-month pregnant wife home, Nithin hoped to return by July. Meanwhile, he restarted volunteering at Blood Donors Kerala-UAE Chapter, which he had suspended after COVID-19 struck Dubai. He distributed food kits to those affected by the pandemic, despite having a busy work schedule. His demise was mourned by the Indian community and the Consul General of India in Dubai.
Nithin's friend Bibin Jacob said they learned of his demise through another friend Praveen, who was living with him after Athira left for India. He was being treated for blood pressure and died in his sleep, possibly due to a heart attack. From his residence in International City, his body was taken to Rashid Hospital and his samples were collected for the COVID-19 test.
Advocate Hashik TK, a senior legal consultant, informed Khaleej Times that his reports came as negative. "We are trying to repatriate his mortal remains to India by tomorrow (Tuesday, June 9) or maximum by Wednesday. We are in the process of obtaining the death notification and police report," he said. Athira was taken to a hospital before being informed about her husband's death.
From Dubai, he was also actively involved with a group called Emergency Team International, arranging blood donations in Kerala. Shocked by Nithin's death, Bibin said, "We just celebrated his 29th birthday on June 2. We are sure it has to be a heart attack as he had some complications with his heart and was admitted to Rashid Hospital in November last year."