April 15, 2021 7:58:42 pm
The Ministry of External Affairs Thursday told the Delhi High Court that the grave of an Indian citizen, who died in Saudi Arabia in January and a month later was buried there despite being a Hindu and without his family’s consent, has been located.
It further informed the court that legal proceedings have also been initiated in Jizan region on his family’s behalf by the Indian consulate for return of his mortal remains.
Director of Consular, Passport and Visa Division of MEA, Vishnu Kumar Sharma told the court that parallel diplomatic efforts will continue with Saudi Arabia in the meantime for the return of Sanjeev Kumar’s mortal remains. The matter, at present, is pending with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior, the court was told.
The legal proceedings in Jizan were initiated after Kumar’s family gave power of attorney to one of the officials of the Indian consulate in Saudi Arabia and the hearing in the case is yet to be fixed, the court was told.
According to the petition filed by Kumar’s wife Anju Sharma, he had been working as a truck driver in Saudi Arabia for the past 23 years and died in January after a cardiac arrest.
After his death, his mortal remains were kept in Beesh General Hospital, Jizan. Sharma, as per the petition, was asked to execute a power of attorney for completing the formalities of repatriation of the mortal remains and the same was done on January 28. However, she was informed on February 18 that he has been buried there due to a mistake in the translation of death certificate which identified his religion as ‘Muslim’.
Anju Sharma is from Himachal Pradesh’s Una district.
The MEA officials had earlier told the court that the translation of the death certificate was done by Kumar’s employer but same is inconsequential as the authorities in Saudi Arabia were aware about his religion since he has been buried in a Non-Muslim cemetry. The court was also told that the Indian Consulate is usually informed about the death of an Indian citizen and the body is not buried unless an NOC is issued by the Consulate.
However, Kumar’s body was buried without informing the Indian consulate, perhaps due to the Covid-19 protocol, the officials told the court.
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