Dubai: Two months after the Dubai-Kozhikode Air India Express flight crash, the families of the victims told Gulf News they have not yet received valid death certificates, let alone compensation from the government.
The names of more than a dozen among the 19 passengers, who died along with the pilot and co-pilot after the crash, have been incorrectly spelt in the death certificates, leading to delay in obtaining legal heirship certificates, they said.
The ill-fated flight IX1344 carrying Indians from the UAE amid the COVID-19 pandemic crashed while landing at the Calicut International Airport on the rainy night of August 7.
Dr Sajjad Hussain, brother of Sahira Banu, 29, who died along with her 10-month-old son Azam Muhammad, told Gulf News over the phone from Kerala that most of the death certificates had spelling mistakes because of which the names of the deceased did not match with those in their passports.
“More than a dozen families had requested for corrections and only a few of them have obtained the corrected certificates so far. We urge the authorities to speed up the procedures to issue the corrected certificates and help us obtain the legal heir certificates which are required for further legal proceedings,” he said.
While they have received the interim compensation from Air India Express (AIE), the families said they are yet to receive the same announced by India’s Minister of Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri and the Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan a day after the crash.
AIE had announced an interim compensation of Rs1 million to the next of kin of the deceased passengers aged 12 years and above, Rs500,000 to those of passengers below 12 years, Rs200,000 to passengers who were critically injured and Rs50,000 to other passengers injured in the incident.
As reported by Gulf News in September, the airline had completed the process of disbursement of interim compensation to all the injured passengers by the end of August.
Family members of the deceased on Tuesday confirmed that they have also received the interim compensation by AIE.
However, they said they did not receive the same amount in compensation announced by the central and state governments of India. They added that they were also yet to receive the aid from Dubai-based Indian businessman Dr Dhananjay Datar who had pledged to donate Rs2 million in total to families of the victims.
According to Indian media reports, both Puri and Vijayan had announced a compensation of Rs1million to the families of the deceased. Puri had also announced Rs200,000 each for those who suffered serious injuries and Rs50,000 for those with minor injuries.
“This is over and above all the other compensations, which might be forthcoming from different agencies, insurance of the aircraft etc.,” Puri was quoted as saying.
Also, Vijayan reportedly stated that if any further assistance was required, the state government would take an appropriate decision to support them to get back to normal life.
Karipur Family WhatsApp group
The crash victims’ families have formed a WhatsApp group to share their concerns and work together for their common causes. The family group has been named after Karipur, the area in which the tabletop airport is located in the Malappuram district of Kerala.
In a statement to Gulf News, the “Karipur Family Members” said they have filed a petition seeking government jobs for the next of kin of the deceased.
This was in view of the precedence set after the Dubai-Mangalore AIE crash that took place in May 2010, they said.
In their case, the family members of the Karipur accident victims hoped that the central or state government would offer jobs to the next of kin.
“The flight was part of the ‘Vande Bharat Mission’, initiated by the central government, to bring back those who had lost their jobs and those who were stranded outside India during this COVID-19 scenario,” the bereaved families wrote in the petition.
“Nineteen people who lost their lives in this tragedy were Keralites. This includes youths who had left their home and family, who struggled day in and day out, in a land, far away from their homeland, to make their two ends meet. This includes toddlers and wives who left their fathers and husbands with a hope of meeting soon. This includes children who were excited to meet their parents and loved ones after a long separation.”
“Unfortunately, as fate had played its own role, their journey ended in a mishap, leaving behind a bunch of broken families. Some families have lost their only earning member, adding poverty to their already existing mental and emotional stress of losing a loved one. Hence, it is our humble request to facilitate government job opportunities for the close and dependent relatives of the deceased, according to their experience and potential. This would alleviate the sufferings of the families to an extent,” the petition to Puri and Vijayan stated.
The same petition has been sent to the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, India’s minister of state for external affairs V. Muraleedharan and the opposition leader of the Kerala legislative assembly Ramesh Chennithala, the families said.
Ismail Palollathil, father-in-law of crash victim Manal Ahmed who was five months pregnant, said the central government is expected to show more accountability in supporting the bereaved families as the victims were part of its largest repatriation mission during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In Manal’s case, we are giving priority to her brother, who has finished BCom, for a job,” said the Abu Dhabi resident.
He said the Karipur Family group was also seeking clarity on the final compensation amount from AIE’s insurers as well. “Though the officials have reportedly said the victims’ families would be compensated as per the Montreal Convention, what would be the minimum amount for each victim is not yet clear.”