Riyadh: For Indians working in gulf countries, the worst journey is when return in body bags. There is no greater agony for a family than waiting for a loved one who is no more. The tragedy compounds when legal formalities and financial obligations have to be complied in a country where language barrier is a prime challenge.
The body of a Telangana NRI was finally brought home on Thursday, three months after his death and after constant persuasion by his friend.
Ponnam Satyanarayana (48), native of Metapally mandal in Jagityal district was terminated from the job after serving for 23 years in a construction firm in Riyadh. He had filed a complaint along with several other lay-off workers, in a labour court. He was stranded due visa expiry and was waiting for his dues to be cleared by the employer before returning home, but he died of cardiac arrest on March 11.
Since then his family and his colleague Mohammed Akbar, who happens to be from Metpally and worked in the same firm for two decades, had been running from pillar to post to repatriate the mortal remains.
The co-workers of deceased had approached Indian Embassy several times but officials cited visa cancellation, and said sending the mortal remains was job of the employer and not responsibility of Indian Embassy.
Frustrated with response of Indian Embassy official in Riyadh, NRIs hailing from the village joined hands to ease the pain of family. “I was exhausted and frustrated, every day in the morning I ran between the labour office, Jawazat (passport) office, hospital and airlines office, for three months,” said Mohammed Akbar, who brought the body to India.
He added, “I have received no help from Indian Embassy whatsoever, as a good gesture Saudi Labour Ministry came forward to help villagers of Chitla Mettapur.”
“I went to collect the documents and wanted to shift the body, but Satyanarayana breathed his last in a private hospital and the hospital demanded that the bill had to be cleared before shifting the body to government hospital mortuary,” said Akbar.
“Neither I had money for taxi to visit the embassy, hospital, and police station, nor for my iqama (residency visa) which expired some two years ago,” he said.