India denies 150 Indians’ bodies lying in Saudi Arabia

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New Delhi– The Indian government on Friday dismissed as “factually misleading” a media report that the bodies of 150 persons from Telengana and Andhra Pradesh are lying in Saudi Arabia mortuaries and the bereaved families were unable to bring these home for the last rites since the Indian embassy was not helping.

“This report is completely factually misleading,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said at his weekly media briefing here.

“The report refers to 150 bodies from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. In reality, there are only about 10 cases that pertain to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana,” Swarup said.

He also explained the role of the embassy after the death of an Indian and the complicated procedure in the Saudi kingdom for repatriation of bodies.

Vikas Swarup

Stating that there were two million expatriate Indians in Saudi Arabia, the spokesperson said that three to four death cases were registered every day on account of natural reasons.

“Most cases are ‘clear’ cases in which, as per the local norms, it takes around three weeks to send mortal remains even if the documents are in order,” he said.

“In cases of unnatural death, like suicide, murder and industrial accident, and also in those cases wherein the families doubt the circumstances of death, the investigation procedure is very lengthy, causing delay in completion of documentation or transportation of mortal remains.”

Swarup said that in some cases, the families demanded release of compensation first before the dispatch of a body “whereas compensation is a legal process and takes a year”.

“In other cases of delay, DNA samples from the families back home are needed to identify the body and complete the local procedures,” he said.

Stating that at any given time, there would be a number of cases of all categories being processed, the spokesperson said that the Indian embassy proactively followed all death cases on top priority.

“In fact, NOCs (no objection certificates) are issued by the embassy on 24×7 basis,” Swarup said.

“In the Kafala system (sponsorship) being followed in Saudi Arabia, it is the responsibility of the sponsor to complete the paper-work and dispatch the mortal remains to India. Despite this legal position, the embassy steps in wherever there are delays in the transportation of mortal remains.”

Most Indians in Saudi Arabia are blue-collar workers.


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