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150 bodies rot in Saudi morgues, families struggle to bring them back

At least 150 bodies of residents of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are piling up at mortuaries in Saudi Arabia for nearly a year with families unable to bring them back to Hyderabad for last rites.

The Indian embassy in Riyadh has been of little help. Despite letters from Ministry of External Affairs to the embassy, nothing moved. MEA officials express helplessness, citing frigid Saudi employers who refuse to reply to emails or phone calls.

Notedly, the cause of deaths are usually attributed to illness, accidents, murders and suicides.

Four letters are required to be submitted to Indian embassy in Riyadh to let the body be flown back to the country. These include medical and police reports, a consent letter from the family and a declaration that no monetary assistance would be demanded either from Saudi government or the employer. This makes the situation difficult.

Thousands of workers from Hyderabad, Karimnagar, Warangal, Mehboobnagar, Nizamabad, in Telangana, and a few from Andhra districts are employed in the Gulf. Statistics with the Telugu community suggest over 10 lakh people from the two states are employed in Saudi Arabia.

A computer programmer, Mohd Taher, hailing from Musheerabad area of the city and working at Dammam, said the procedure of sending coffins home are plagued by red tape.

In May, a woman from the Old City, Asima, was allegedly tortured to death by her employer. The NRI cell in the Telangana secretariat wrote to the Indian embassy in Riyadh. But it was a volunteers group which helped expedite return of Asima’s body, which was sent to Hyderabad on May 20. “This actually took less time. There are cases where bodies are lying in morgues for eight months as families can’t pursue employers or MEA officials,” said Taher.

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