With the families failing to overcome cumbersome procedures to bring the bodies of the relatives back home, at least 150 corpses of residents of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are piling up at various mortuaries in Saudi Arabia for nearly a year.
Despite letters from Ministry of External Affairs to the Indian embassy in Riyadh, nothing moved. MEA officials express helplessness, citing frigid Saudi employers who refuse to reply to emails or phone calls, Times of India reports.
However, volunteers who helps Indians in Saudi for deporting bodies allege that the Indian embassy in Riyadh is not approaching the issue with the seriousness it warrants.
All that the Indian embassy in Riyadh does is write to local police. When cops don’t respond, nothing is doneMohammed Amjed Ullah Khan, leader of a volunteer group
According to reports, thousands of workers from Hyderabad, Karimnagar, Warangal, Mahbubnagar, Nizamabad, in Telangana, and from Andhra districts are employed in the Gulf. Over 10 lakh people from the two states are employed in Saudi Arabia alone.
Speaking to TOI, a computer programmer Mohammed Taher, hailing from Musheerabad area of the city and working at Dammam, said the procedure of sending coffins home are plagued by red tapism
There are cases where bodies are lying in morgues for eight months as families can’t pursue employers or MEA officials to help them bring their bodies back homeMohammed Taher
In an accident cases, 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,” Taher added.
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.
It costs Rs 5 to 6 lakhs for sending each body to India and Saudi employers refuse to foot bill.
Non-Muslims are worst hit as they have few friends or relatives to help. They also have a problem with the local language, volunteers 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.