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Indian Embassy in UAE issues clarification on repatriation of bodies to India
July 10, 2017, 12:58 pm

A huge uproar from Indian expatriates, mostly from the southern Indian state of Kerala against a circular issued by an Indian airport official tightening the procedures for repatriation of bodies to India has prompted the official to reassure that the status quo would prevail.

Three requirements mentioned in the circular issued a few days ago by airport health officer at Calicut Airport in Kerala stirred the controversy during the weekend. The first condition demanding to submit all documents such as death certificates to the said officer before 48 hours of arrival of the body would cause at least two more days’ delay in repatriation, according to social workers.

The second controversial rule said, if the cause of death is mentioned as cardio-respiratory arrest or natural death or to be ascertained after post-mortem, such death certificates will be invalid. As Gulf News reported, most of the deaths being registered with the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi are natural deaths with recorded causes such as cardiac arrest, respiratory failure and related ailments. It means most of the death certificates of the deceased would be invalid, if the said rule is strictly enforced.

Then the circular suggested a solution to overcome ‘invalid death certificate’ by the way of arranging an additional certificate from the health department, stating, “the person has not died because of the infectious/communicable/notifiable disease of international health concern”.

The social workers said this would cause unnecessary burden and subsequent delay in repatriation of the bodies. Although no such incidents were reported in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, an airline denied permission to fly a body from Sharjah airport to Calicut on Thursday.

“The controversy began with denial of permission to the body of Indian expat Raees, who died of heart attack in Dibba,” a prominent social worker told Gulf News on Sunday.

“Since then around five bodies, all of which had to be repatriated to Kerala, had to be routed through Dubai as Sharjah officials were asked to follow the change in the rule in India,” said Ashraf Thamarassery, a social worker renowned for repatriating the bodies of many Indian expats in the UAE.

A news report from Saudi Arabia also mentioned a delay in repatriation of the body of a Keralite from Dammam to Calicut airport. Following the complaints from expatriates, the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan took up the matter with the Government of India on Saturday evening. He wrote on his Facebook page that the said rules were impractical and unacceptable. Vijayan updated on Sunday that the body of the Keralite died in Dammam would reach Calicut on Monday morning, following the intervention of central government officials.

Meanwhile, Dr. Jalaluddin, who issued the circular, told a local TV channel that the circular would not cause any further delay or burden. He said the circular was issued based on the existing rules [International Health Rule-2005 and Indian Aircraft Public Health Rule-1954] and reassured that no further inconvenience would be caused.

He said the same to a group of expatriates including Thamarassery in a meeting with them in Calicut on Sunday morning. “He is a new officer and has clarified that his attempt was to ensure no remains of expats who died of contagious disease enter without proper approval,” Thamarassery said.

Apparently, it was a travel agency that forwarded this circular to Sharjah. The official has assured that he would resolve the issue by tomorrow [Monday] itself, he said.

The Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi said it has not received any intimation from Indian authorities about any changes in the existing rules regarding repatriation of bodies. “The existing rules and procedures are followed as usual,” said Dinesh Kumar, Counsellor — Community Affairs at the embassy.

Source: Gulf News

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