Kalyan bros have no money to bring kins' bodies home from the US

Updated: Jul 19, 2016, 12:28 IST | Faisal Tandel

Road accident kills senior citizens on holiday and their US-based son. Wife in coma and 11-month-old son injured; family says it can't afford Rs 4 lakh per cremation cost in USA

The Kalyan-based family of Chandan Gavai (38) an IT professional based in New York, who was killed along with his parents in a drink driving accident in the US on July 4, has been running from pillar to post trying to bring the bodies back to India. Gavai's wife, Manisha, is in a coma with terrible burns and head injuries, while his 11-month-old son, Ibhan, has fractured both his arms.

11-month-old Ibhan fractured both his arms in the accident
11-month-old Ibhan fractured both his arms in the accident

Swapnil Gavai (34), Chandan's brother, a resident of Kalyan, reached New York in the second week of July and has been desperately approaching all authorities concerned there to let him have the bodies so that he can cremate them.

'Will cost Rs 13 lakh for each body'
"Bringing the bodies to India will cost us $20,000 (R13.5 lakh) for each body; we don't have that kind of money. The cost for cremating each body right here is around $6,000 (R4 lakh). We have been going to everyone we can, asking for help. Also, the authorities here are saying we cannot claim our brother's body, only his wife can do that. We can't just claim our parents' bodies and abandon our brother," said Swapnil, who is a financial consultant and runs a small business in Kalyan.

While Chandan died in the accident, his wife Manisha is in coma with severe burns and head injuries
While Chandan died in the accident, his wife Manisha is in coma with severe burns and head injuries

Recounting what he found out when he arrived in New York, Swapnil said, "My parents Kamalnayan and Archana along with Chandan, Manisha and Ibhan were in their car on their way back from watching the Independence Day fireworks on the beach. Suddenly, a speeding pickup truck crashed into their car. Both vehicles caught fire on the spot." The 25-year-old driver of the pick-up truck, who died, was found to have twice the permissible levels of alcohol in his system, Swapnil said.

'Indian embassy unhelpful'
His eldest brother, Anand (40), a Netherlands resident, who arrived in New York on Wednesday, has also been doing the rounds of the Indian embassy, asking for help.

Archana with her grandson Ibhan
Archana with her grandson Ibhan

Anand said, "The Indian embassy here has not been of any help to us. In fact, they even insulted us for approaching them for help. We don't know where to go or who else to approach." Anand, who is a scientist, had to then approach the Dutch embassy who, in turn, approached the Indian embassy.

"I reached New York on Wednesday night and approached the Suffolk police station. The officials there handed over the belongings of our family that they found at the accident site," Anand said.

Chandan with his parents Kamalnayan and Archana, all of whom died in the accident
Chandan with his parents Kamalnayan and Archana, all of whom died in the accident

"We would prefer not to cremate the bodies here and would like to bring the bodies back to India instead. We can do that only if the Indian government helps us," he added.

Following news reports about the accident, an NGO run by the Indian community in New York made a plea for funds. They have collected more than 2 lakh dollars till date. But, the brothers said, the NGO has not been responding to their calls for help.

Gavai's wife, Manisha, is in a coma with terrible burns and head injuries
Gavai's wife, Manisha, is in a coma with terrible burns and head injuries

Swapnil said, "According to other Indians here, the money collected is only for Ibhan's future. We will take care of his future. He doesn't need that money. The money would help us cremate our brother's and parents' bodies instead." Along with the brothers in New York are Anand's wife and the parents of Manisha. The father, Kamalnayan, was a retired accountant at a firm based at Shahad in Kalyan and the family lives in the Khadakpada area of Kalyan (West).

Friends trying to help
Responding to the Gavais' plight, their friends in Kalyan have decided to help. Mitesh Rasaikar, a friend of Swapnil's, has created an online site http://ketto.org/nyaccident requesting for funds and have already collected R10,000. "I have also tweeted about the Gavais to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. But, we are yet to get any response," Rasaikar said.

Rs 4 lakh The cost of cremating each body in the US

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