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L.Srikumar Pai
B.Sc( Engg.), MIE, MIWWA, MICI
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Things to do when an expatriate dies

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By Adarsh Madhavan: — Several documents and many key tasks have to be employed when dealing with human remains. Most Indians, who comprise nearly 60 per cent of the expatriate population in Oman, often face the grim task of transporting the human remains to their hometown or having to cremate/bury them here.

But, many are at a loss as to what to do.

Yesterday, we looked into the key documents required by the Indian Embassy here at the time of reporting a death case, plus the settlement of legal dues of the deceased Indians and death compensation claims.

Today, we look at other aspects:

Disbursement of legal dues/death compensation

As soon as a cheque, representing the legal dues or death compensation, is received by the mission, it is credited to the mission’s bank account. A draft equivalent in Indian rupees is subsequently obtained and sent to the district collector concerned in India for disbursal among the legal heirs of the deceased. An intimation to this effect is also conveyed to the family of the deceased. A receipt is taken of the disbursal, which is sent to the mission.

Mode of disposal of bodies

Bodies can be cremated or buried or transported to India, as per the wish of the next of kin of the deceased. Air-India (currently Air-India Express does not offer this free facility) and Indian Airlines transports bodies free to the international airport, which is nearest to the residence of the deceased upon the recommendation of the mission. The relatives of the deceased are expected to receive the body at the airport.

Local/burial/cremation of the body

The mission, upon a specific request of the next of kin, takes the help of the Indian community members for the burial/cremation of the body in Oman. A fee, amounting to RO7.800, is charged by the mission for the registration of death in the embassy register.

Local cremation of the body is carried out at Sohar Crematorium, which is around 220km from Muscat. An amount of RO70 is charged for the process of burial. Burial charges (at the burial ground owned by the municipality) is RO50 (including transport). This money is generally paid either by the friends/relatives of the deceased through contribution among themselves or by the sponsor, if the latter agrees.

Airlifting of the body to India

Air-India (currently Air-India Express is not providing this free facility)/Indian Airlines regularly transport the human remains of Indians to the international airport, which is nearest to their (the deceased’s) residence. This has to be conveyed to the nearest office of the airline in India. The next of kin should also ensure that their consent — that they (or their representatives) would be there to receive the body — is forwarded to the airline’s office in Oman. Bodies are accepted by the cargo of the airline concerned only after they obtain the consent from the receiving end.

Role of Air-India and Indian Airlines – 2004

l Air-India transported 137 bodies to India during 2004

l 111 free air tickets were provided to accompanying passengers

l Air-India allows 50kg of the belongings of the deceased

l Air-India attended 25 stretcher cases, plus, they were (since the A-I Express does not offer these services) 25 per cent lesser than any other airlines in Oman

l Indian Airlines transported 60 bodies last year. However, they do not provide free ticket(s) to the accompanying passenger.

l Indian Airlines allows 40kg of the belongings of the deceased

l Indian Airlines attended nine (9) stretcher cases during 2004.

Courtesy: Times of Oman


Wording important: Word the letter (from the next of kin of the deceased) properly. “It is of great importance,” stressed Jabir.

One of the key documents required by Indian Embassy in such cases is the letter from the next of kin. This letter must state his/her consent about the mode of disposal of the human remains and also whether the post-mortem is required to be conducted or not.

“Now, there is a specific way in which this letter must be worded. Care must be taken to ensure that it is worded exactly as required by the authorities here. It must be clear and concise, giving no room for speculation. Ambiguity must be rooted out, for it will only succeed in delaying the process,” Jabir warned.

But, the letter can be sent in their mother tongue. “This is not a problem. And, we can provide the exact wordings if required,” he said.

A-I Express should help: Air-India Express should make efforts to carry human remains of Indians free from Oman, social workers told the Times.

“We hope that authorities of Air-India Express would please consider this humble request. Air-India has done a lot and we really thank them from the bottom of our hearts. But ever since the switchover to AI-Express, they have not been providing this free service,” Jabir and Gopakumar, told the Times.

Air-India has transported 137 bodies to India last year. It has provided 111 free tickets to accompanying passengers during the same year. The airline also allowed more than 6,850kg worth of belongings of the deceased (it allows 50kg worth of belongings of the deceased/per body).

Indian Airlines, meanwhile, transported 60 cases last year. They, however, do not provide free tickets to the passenger.

Indian Airlines has allowed for more than 2,400 kg worth of belongings of the deceased at 40kg per body. While Air-India attended 25 stretcher cases last year, Indian Airlines attended 9 stretcher cases. “We would like to appeal to Air-India Express to please consider our request and continue carrying the remains of Indians free,” Jabir and Gopakumar said.

Expenses: Sending a single body back to India will cost around RO264.800. “Again, we cannot say that this would be a fixed rate. It may vary between RO250 to RO270 per body,” Jabir noted.

l Embalming the body would cost around RO110

l The coffin would cost around RO60/RO70

l Transportation (of the coffin to the airport – mostly from interior locations): RO20 (minimum)

l Cargo handling charges: RO37

l Miscellaneous: RO20

No actual count: So many bodies have been sent by Jabir and his dedicated team. “I have really lost count. I must have, with the help of my team, sent several 100 bodies back to India,” Jabir said.

Other than in assisting in sending the bodies back, Jabir also helps in the cremation part of the bodies here. “We have helped cremate at least six bodies this year,” he noted. He attributes this to the “amazing network” that they have in Sohar. “There are some devoted social workers in Sohar, who are really amazing. They will help without even a murmur,” Jabir said, relating many incidents where the ‘Sohar network’ came out of the blue to help. Jabir, meanwhile, revealed that it wasn’t Indians alone that called for help. “Sometimes, even locals would call us,” he said, recalling cases where Omanis called him, requesting for help to send their organisation’s dead Indian personnel back to India. “Most of the time, these would be from small organizations with just one or two staff.”

Good efforts: S. N. Gopakumar yesterday reiterated the need to not only thank, but also recognise the efforts of the officials at the Indian Embassy and couple of lawyers who have helped formalise this ‘what to do when an Indian dies’ guideline to the lay public. “While I would like to spell out my heartfelt thanks to all the officials of the Indian Embassy, I would also like to thank the advocates Hassan and Girish of Hassan bin Mohsin bin AbdulGani — lawyers and legal consultants based in the CBD, who have greatly contributed in making this a solid, reference guide,” Gopakumar said.

Badr Al Samaa offer: Badr Al Samaa Polyclinic yesterday offered their ambulance facilities (to transfer dead bodies to the airport) to those families/relatives/friends of deceased Indians who are unable to bear the cost. “This free facility is only for those who are unable to pay the cost,” a spokesperson of Badr Al Samaa, said adding that this message was aimed at many of the Indian expatriates who had no means of sending the human remains of their relatives, friends, etc.

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