As fears of coronavirus lead to the shutting down of travel routes and more restrictions continue to be placed on transportation to and from affected areas, Mumbai-based dentist Puneet Mehra is caught in the crossfire as he has been unable to get his mother’s body back from China.
On 24 January, Mehra and his mother, Rita Mehra, were travelling on an Air China flight from Melbourne to Mumbai. During the flight, Rita Mehra died due to a heart attack, despite attempts at CPR and resuscitation, and the flight had to make an emergency landing at Zhengzhou Airport.
What Is Leading to the Delay?
The body was taken to the morgue of Henan Provincial Hospital, where issues with lack of staff to do the autopsy as well as mistakes in the death certificate led to delays. Meanwhile, the Mehra family spoke to a transportation company in Mumbai to bring the body back for the funeral rites.
However, despite three weeks having passed, no action has been able to be undertaken. Mehra said the family is not sure if the delays are due to coronavirus restrictions or some other reason.
"I don't understand where the problem is. I have written to the PM, the President and the MEA but there is still no sign of my mother and we don't know when she will be brought back here," Dr Puneet Mehra said, as reported by NDTV.
"I have lodged my grievance on Modiji's grievance website and attached a letter also. I have written to the President of India and to the External Affairs Minister's office also. One email I have sent to the Ambassador of India in Beijing, but I am still waiting for the response. 24 days have passed, and we still don't know the whereabouts of my mother. I have come back but my mother is still there.”
What Is the Indian Embassy Saying?
NDTV reported that in a letter to the family, the Indian Embassy had said, "The Chinese Government has taken unprecedented measures and few even draconian steps to control the epidemic, which is not willing to subside so far. In nutshell, it is not a normal and an ordinary time that China is facing. The overall situation is extra-ordinary and completely abnormal necessitating the Government to take any conceivable step to contain the spread, which has led to widespread and severe restrictions on movement of people and vehicles."
"While it is going to be our earnest endeavour with the Chinese authorities to seek their indulgence in allowing the concession in the imposed regulations to allow the mortal remains to be transported to India, yet we cannot predict at this stage whether our pursuance would melt Chinese authorities," the letter said.
Referring to the announcement made by the Indian Embassy in China – which said that India will be sending medical supplies on a relief flight to Wuhan city later this week to support China in combating the outbreak – Mehra questioned if this flight could not help him in this situation.
He said that the family has not received any reply from the MEA till now.
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