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192 days, a dead body’s endless wait to return India

Giridih: Chinta Devi, spends hours wondering if she will get to see the dead body of her husband, Nunuchand Mahto sometime soon. Part in denial, part in remorse, Chinta, is torn apart in a mental turmoil. “I had no idea such a thing (referring to her husband’s death) would happen. I had talked to him on that fateful night.”

Mahto, a 42-year-old, a electrical fitter, and resident of Tirla village of Bagoder block in Giridih district, Jharkhand, had gone to work in Tamra city of Saudi Arabia on July 6, 2016 itself and had unfortunately passed away only twenty days later. Earlier he had worked in Malaysia for two years.

After his sudden death, his colleague, who is also a resident of Bagoder had called the family. Without revealing the death information, he had said that they will take care of the education of Mahto’s kids. The call had surprised the family.

Soon, the family members started contacting other colleagues of Nunuchand to know what exactly had happened. However, nobody was ready to tell the exact reason as there had been no official confirmation about it.

It was only after a fortnight, that the middle man who had sent Nunuchand to Saudi, sent a hand written letter, informing the family members about his death, on July 31.

“After almost a month, we got a letter from a hospital in Tamara, mentioning that when Nunuchand had arrived at the hospital, he was already dead. He had died from a cardiac arrest. Also, if they would permit for a post-mortem to be conducted. But, in hospital’s letter, the date of his death of mentioned was mentioned as July 26,” said Prakash Mahto, brother-in-law of the deceased.

In reply to the hospital letter, Chinta Devi said that they do not want post-mortem of the body.

Mahto is survived by his wife and three children, Poonam Kumari (16), Mukesh Kumar (10) and Khushi Kumari (6). Poonam, a standard eleven student, reacting the situation, where her father’s body is yet to arrive after 191 days of his death, says, “We are still hopeful of getting his mortal remains back, but you people have to help us also.”

Interestingly, the brother of the deceased, Babulal Mahto, also bagged a job with the same company— Arabian Teams Contracting (ATC) Establishment and went to Saudi on August 28.

“While leaving, he had said that soon after reaching there, he would be sending the dead body of his brother, but there has been no contact with him also,” said Chinta.

Whereas Chinta and her family members are furnishing all details to leaders,  the embassy and district administration, their wait is getting longer.

Prakash also says that as soon as he got the information over phone, he had met Bagoder”s BJP MLA Nagendra Mahto, and later former MLA Vinod Singh.

Singh even had had a word with the company officials.

“I talked to them, to  which they agreed to compensating the family. Later, they transferred Rs 1.7 lakh to his wife’s account. While some immigrated labours have also collected money for the family,” informed the former legislator.

MLA Mahto on the other hand, on August 6, wrote to the Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, bringing the case to her notice. Nunuchand’s case was given a grievance identity number — SB2MTR101010216 on Madad, a website, initiated by the ministry of External Affairs, to file consular grievances online.

Last updated is on January 22, his grievance case, says that NOC for transportation of MTR has been issued. But in it’s December 15, 2016, it has also mentioned that they have not been able to establish contact with the family and that the dead body can be buried by the authorities in Saudi Arabia.

Amidst all, on January 23, CPI-ML MLA Rajkumar Yadav raised this issue in Jharkhand Vidhan Sahba, as to why Nunuchand’s body is lying in Saudi and had not been brought back home?

The government in its reply cited the same reason for the delay— demand of no post-mortem by the family.

When contacted, Mahto told eNewsroom, “One week back I had got a call from the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia informing me that all formalities had been done, but there has been no further update on the issue. I will check to know why the body has not reached yet.”

Shahnawaz Akhtar

is Founder of eNewsroom. He loves doing human interest, political and environment related stories.

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