India

Families wait for months for relatives' dead-bodies from Saudi Arabia

12 Dec 2016 | By Supriya

Disturbing reports reveal that mortuaries in Saudi Arabia are piling up with Indians who have passed away there as families wait for bodies to be sent home to India.

There are 150 deceased Indians waiting to be transported back; some bodies have been lying in mortuaries for nearly a year.

The majority of the deceased hail from states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

In context: Tragic fate of deceased Indians in Saudi Arabia

BackgroundTelugu community in Saudi Arabia

According to statistics from the Telugu-community, nearly 10 lakh people from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh work and live in Saudi Arabia.

In cases of accidental death due to accident or murder, laws in Saudi Arabia are very stringent and the body of the deceased is released after completing investigations, that's usually after 60-90 days.

Indians there believe sending bodies home is mired in red-tape.

Cumbersome procedure

To transport bodies of deceased Indians, several documents such as letters to the Indian embassy in Riyadh, medical and police reports, declarations that the Saudi government or employer won't be liable for monetary assistance, makes for a complicated process.
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12 Dec 2016Families wait for months for relatives' dead-bodies from Saudi Arabia

Cause for the tragic situation

Key reasonsCause for the tragic situation

In case of death, the cost of transporting the body is nearly Rs.5-6 lakhs.

Bodies are transported by airlines in cargo section and as a matter of practice, they wait for 3-4 bodies to accumulate before doing so.

The Indian-embassy sends 'letters of request' to respective Saudi employers who don't respond to repeated emails or calls because of the high costs to transport bodies.

Steps takenCan the Indian government help?

Common causes of deaths of Indians working or visiting Saudi Arabia are usually due to illness, accidents and murders.

Despite correspondence from Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Indian Embassy in Riyadh is unable to do much as they don't pursue such cases with the police and only write to employers.

MEA Officials have indicated helplessness as attempts to contact Saudi employers are often stone-walled.

Other reasons contribute to difficult situation

Non-Muslims are believed to be particularly vulnerable as they may not have friends or relatives who can help; even the local language becomes a big hurdle to accomplish a cumbersome process of transporting bodies.