Indira-Gandhi-International-Airport
The arrival hall in Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India Image Credit: Agency

Abu Dhabi: The repatriation of bodies from the UAE to Delhi is turning out to be an extra ordeal for bereaved relatives with authorities at the Indian capital’s Indira Gandhi International Airport repeatedly denying clearance to individuals who have died of cardiac arrest.

The latest incident involves 52-year-old Indian national Kailash Chandra Saini who died on an Alitalia flight from Delhi to Milan on Monday while travelling with his son Heera Lal Saini. The flight was diverted to Abu Dhabi where the deceased’s body was held up at Abu Dhabi International Airport until late afternoon on Wednesday after Delhi Airport denied clearance on the pretext that they required a special letter from the UAE Health Authority aside from the regular procedural set of documents.

M.M. Nasser, a social worker who helps to repatriate bodies was working all through Tuesday night to get the paperwork done. However, once the body reached Abu Dhabi Airport again from the morgue ready to be flown to Delhi via an Etihad flight, he was informed by airport authorities that they had yet to get the go-ahead from Delhi airport.

For the past two years, this has been happening and I have encountered at least seven cases. It is disappointing ...

- M.M. Nasser, Social worker

“The body was taken to the airport from the morgue at 2am and I finished all the formalities and reached the airport at 4.30am,” said Nasser. “The flight was at 10am, but with no clearance from Delhi, it was held up.

“The Indian Embassy was also working on it, but couldn’t get the clearance for the 2pm flight either,” he added, revealing that the same had happened repeatedly in the past and that this was not a one-off.

“For the past two years, this has been happening and I have encountered at least seven cases. It is disappointing to see his son Heera’s frustration and imagine the state of the family back home.

In the past, we were forced to send bodies to Patna airport instead of Delhi. Imagine the body being held up at the airport for such a long time. How can there be different set of rules for Delhi airport. There has to be a permanent solution for this,” said Nasser, who later in the evening informed Gulf News that the Embassy counsellor M. Raja Murugan confirmed the matter was resolved.

The body was later flown on Wednesday night.