Three men hadn’t died of coronavirus but were initially rejected by Indian authorities

The remains of three Indians who died in the UAE and were flown to Delhi on Friday only to be returned to Abu Dhabi due to incorrect permissions have now finally been collected by relatives in India after a second attempt.

“The mortal remains were sent [from the capital] on a flight on [Sunday] night. They were collected by relatives this morning,” Pavan Kapoor, Indian Ambassador the UAE, confirmed to Gulf News.

The remains of Kamlesh Bhatt, Sanjeev Kumar and Jagsir Singh were embroiled in the mix-up over the weekend.

The three Indian expats passed away in the third week of April from causes unrelated to the coronavirus. They were flown out of Abu Dhabi on Thursday night, but were returned on Friday from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport without being offloaded from the cargo plane.

The incident prompted much consternation among the expat community, and Kapoor earlier told Gulf News that he was “appalled” that it had happened.

“There was some degree of confusion, [possibly related to the coronavirus]. It was local confusion. But to the best of my knowledge, we are not sending back any remains of people who pass away from COVID-19 and are dealing with them locally,” the Ambassador said today.

He added that he had requested photographic evidence from the airline to ensure that the remains had been collected by relatives.

The initial confusion arose as a result of a new order from the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs, which requires Embassies and High Commissions around the world to demand No Objection Certificates from the Government before they allow the repatriation of Indians who have died from non-COVID-19 causes. This is in addition to other clearances from the embassies, as well as airport clearances.

In a petition filed at the Indian Supreme Court on Saturday, the Pravasi Legal Cell NGO likened the requirement of No Objection Certificates from the Government for the repatriation of bodies to ‘a denial of repatriation’, saying that it made the entire process tedious. The plea urged the Central Government to facilitate repatriations, especially since “a number of bodies of citizens who died of non-COVID-19 ailments are lying abandoned at airports in countries like Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, UAE and Saudi Arabia.

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