Five days after the mysterious disappearance of a Malaysian airliner over the South China Sea, family members of Chandrika Sharma have expressed unhappiness with Indian authorities for not reaching out to relatives of missing passengers.
Chandrika, an activist and official of an international NGO, was on board the jetliner, which is yet to be traced. There were five Indians on board and India has finally offered to join the search.
“It is ironical that India that claims to be a regional power and aims to play a prominent role on the global scene has no word on the incident, no offer of assistance for the search and rescue operation till yesterday, and no demonstrable offer of assistance to families of Indian passengers. I would have liked to see basic courtesies, and honourable assurances,” said Chandrika’s husband K S Narendran.
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In absence credible information, the family is “saddened, sometimes angry and bewildered”, he added.
Chandrika, 51, executive secretary of International Collective in Support of Fishworkers, was on her way to Mangolia to attend the 32nd FAO Asia Pacific Regional Conference. She flew from Chennai to Kuala Lumpur on Friday, and took the ill-fated connecting flight around midnight, occupying seat 14-J.
Narendran, a management consultant, had last spoken to his wife at the gate of his apartment complex on the day she left Chennai, and their daughter Meghna, a student of Ambedkar University, spoke to her mother for a long time after she landed in Kuala Lumpur. “That was the last,” he said. Since then, it has been an agonising wait.
The airlines got in touch with the family to facilitate their travel to Kuala Lumpur. In absence of definitive information about the missing passengers, the family considered it premature to undertake such a trip. They watch TV for updates.
“Some friends suggested that being in Kuala Lumpur helps to remain in the radar of authorities. A rather poor joke under the circumstances. On the other hand, the thought may not have arisen if the Indian government was visibly engaged on the issue and had remained in frequent touch,” he said.