They were told that their loved one died more than a month ago in a foreign land. Yet, this family from Vikhroli are yet to see his face or bid him a final goodbye, thanks to the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia who have been allegedly offering vague excuses and not cooperating with the family in their efforts to get the senior citizen’s body back to India.
On April 29, the family of Rajnikanth Dalal was told he had died due to cardiac arrest. The family is still struggling to get his body back to India. Pics/Sameer Markande
The deceased, Rajnikant Dalal (62), had been employed as an auto engineer with a private firm in the Al-Qassim region of Saudi Arabia. On April 29, his family wife Rekha, daughter Khyati, and son Devang received the shock of their life when they got a phone call from one Javed, who identified himself as Rajnikant’s colleague.
Javed broke the news to the family that Rajnikant had died due to cardiac arrest. Khyati (24), who is pursuing chartered accountancy, told mid-day, “Father used to call us every other day. The last we spoke to him was on April 26. When he didn’t call us for two days, we were worried.
On April 29 at midnight, we got a call from one Javed, who told us he had passed away.” The family had last been together back in September 2013 and Rajnikant was the sole breadwinner of the family. If losing him wasn’t enough, the family’s tribulations only got worse when they began their efforts to get his body back to India.
First, the family couldn’t believe it at all. They tried calling on Rajnikant’s number to try and get some more details, but nobody answered it. They then got in touch with the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia, who, the family alleged, have only been passing the buck.
“We started enquiring with the Indian Embassy and they informed us his body had been kept in Buraidah Central Hospital in Al Qassim, Saudi Arabia,” added Khyati. Then, the embassy officials claimed that Dalal’s employer was not cooperating and that they were seeking help from the local police and had written three different applications to the police station.
The height of the embassy’s lack of empathy was when they told the grieving Dalals on Monday (June 1) to collect the body from the city’s international airport. “Last week, the embassy officials claimed they had sent the body to India and asked us to collect it from Sahar Airport on Monday. We made preparations for the last rites and went to receive the body at the airport.
But the body never arrived!” said Devang, the son of Rajnikanth and a TYBSc student. On Wednesday (June 3), the embassy told the family they would have to redo the entire paperwork again because there has been a “drastic change in the laws in Saudi Arabia.” “We have spent more than Rs 10,000 on phone bills in order to contact the embassy, so that we get our father’s body back for performing his last rites.
But every time they come up with silly excuses. We are devastated,” Khyati said. Helping the Dalals in their time of need are their neighbours. Sajid Khan, one of those assisting the family in the process, said, “Our embassies abroad are to help us, but this Saudi Arabia-based embassy has been fooling the family for the last one month. They initially asked us to give them the power of attorney, which the family has dispatched.
Since then, they have been giving these excuses.” The man’s wife, Rekha (60), is still in a state of shock and sometimes feels like killing herself. She said, “Till I see my husband’s body, I will not be at peace. Nobody is concerned about our loss. The people in the embassy are harassing us for no reason. Looking at their casual approach, I feel like committing suicide.”
In an email to the family (which the family shared with this paper), an embassy official blamed the sponsor for the delay in dispatching the mortal remains to India. They claimed the sponsor had been asking for money to send the body and they had to ask a social worker to persuade the sponsor to complete the formalities. The official claimed the social worker one Iqbal had even booked space on Saudi Airlines on June 3.
However, the cargo authorities refused to take the body onboard, claiming another clearance was required as per new Saudi government rules, adding that this new paperwork would be completed by Sunday.