Mandeep Kaur died by suicide in New York. Now, her family battles to bring her body home

Mandeep Kaur’s family living in Uttar Pradesh has been urging the Centre to arrange to transfer her mortal remains home or to grant them a visa to the US. They have also started an online petition, seeking justice for Mandeep, who died by suicide, after being subjected to abuse by her husband

FP Explainers August 12, 2022 09:31:22 IST
Mandeep Kaur died by suicide in New York. Now, her family battles to bring her body home

Mandeep Kaur died by suicide in the United States on 4 August. Before her death, she released a video in which she outlined how her husband had tortured her mercilessly. Image Courtesy: @TheKaurMovement/Instagram

It’s been almost 10 days since Mandeep Kaur, a 30-year-old Indian-origin woman, died by suicide in New York after being subjected to repeated domestic abuse by her husband for close to eight years.

While battling their profound grief over losing their loved one, her family in Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor is also running pillar to post to get her body back to India or arrange visas for the parents to visit the United States to perform her last rites.

Yogita Bhayana, who heads the group People Against Rape in India (PARI), is assisting Kaur’s family in their efforts to get her body back home and also seek justice for her.

As the battle continues and Kaur’s family attempt to seek closure in the matter, we take a closer look at the case and the procedures that need to be followed to transfer the mortal remains back to the country.

The tragic tale of Mandeep Kaur

Mandeep Kaur, a 30-year-old woman, died by suicide inside her New York home on 3 August after allegedly being subjected to domestic abuse by her husband Ranjodhbeer Singh Sandhu.

Kaur had posted an online video in which she described years of physical and mental torture at the hands of her husband that prompted her to take the extreme step. In the 2.49 minute video, Mandeep is heard alleging that Ranjodhbeer used to beat her daily. She is seen crying and distressed, saying she can’t take the abuse anymore.

Showing her bruises, she continues, “I am really very sad. It has been eight years. I have tried my best. I was beaten up every day. I have been suffering him and his beatings, thinking that he will improve someday. But no, he beat me up for eight years. Had extra-marital affairs. We lived there (in India) for the first two-and-a-half years and it was hell.”

“Then we came here. He would get drunk and beat me up. Sometimes he would beat me even without being drunk. He would beat, me and on top of that, be with other women. I tried to put up with it for my children,” she added.

In another video that has surfaced, she is heard saying, “I refuse to take this anymore” as Sandhu pushes her down on a bed and chokes her. In the video, one can hear her two children howling, “Papa, no maaro mumma nu (Papa, stop hitting mom),” while she is being abused.

Mandeep’s father, Jaspal Singh, has said that the two married in 2015 and in 2018, they both went to America. He told NDTV that Sandhu had been torturing Kaur for years, demanding a son. “But she said she won’t leave him as she couldn’t raise her two daughters. We understood.”

Reacting to the incident, the Indian Consulate had said on Saturday, “We are deeply saddened by the death of Mandeep Kaur in Queens, New York under most tragic circumstances. We are in touch with the US authorities at Federal and local level as well as the community. We stand ready to render all assistance.

Bringing her mortal remains home

Mandeep Kaur’s anguished family is now battling to bring her body home and have approached officials at the Ministry of External Affairs for help.

Mandeep’s brother Sandeep Singh said they were running pillar to post to get the work done but were not receiving any help or response from any official. According to Sandeep, the family wants to go to the US and perform her last rites, and also claim the custody of her two minor daughters. They have applied for a visa for his father, mother and sister but haven’t got any response.

“We don’t know about the status of our visa or what will happen to the kids. There’s no official from the Government of India whom we can talk to and know the details. We are trying to contact everyone. It’s been one week since her death and we still do not know what will happen with the body,” he was quoted as telling ABP News.

In an emotional appeal, he said, “If bringing back the body is not possible, then at least let us go, giving a visa is not a difficult thing. Our entire family is just dying for the kids every minute, we are seeing our sister only in those girls.”

Distressed by the incident, Yogita Bhayana, who heads PARI, has initiated a petition on Change.org urging for the body to be returned to the family in India and also the husband and other family members who pushed Mandeep to suicide be punished severely.

At the time of writing this report, the petition had garnered 12,238 online signatures.

Senior Aam Aadmi Party leader Raghav Chadha has also taken note of the incident and on 8 August sought the immediate intervention of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

Chadha, it was reported, told the Union minister that the unfortunate demise of Mandeep Kaur had shocked the entire country. “We cannot bring her back. But I urge the external affairs ministry to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice and her family’s demand to bring her body back to India is met immediately,” Chadha said in his memorandum submitted to the Union minister.

Delhi Commission for Women Chairperson Swati Maliwal has also sought Jaishankar's intervention in the matter. On 11 August, she sent a Rakhi to S Jaishankar, along with a letter seeking justice.

In her letter on behalf of the Delhi Commission for Women, she requested the minister to issue directions to ensure that steps were taken to provide justice to Kaur and her family.

Maliwal urged Jaishankar to help bring Kaur’s mortal remains back to her family in India, among other requests.

She also requested that a team of psychologists, social workers, and police officers, appointed by the Government of India, meet Kaur’s children and ascertain their condition.

Transferring mortal remains

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has laid down the rules to be followed for transferring the mortal remains of an Indian national. As per the guidelines, the death needs to be registered with the concerned mission.

The MEA has said that while there is no undue delay in cases of natural deaths, the time taken in transporting the mortal remains to India is longer in the case of unnatural deaths, because of local procedures involved in those countries for investigating the cause of death.

It also adds that in case no friend or relative is available to take care of the transport of mortal remains, the Indian Embassy/Consulate can make arrangements for transport of the mortal remains.

Please note: A collection of suicide prevention helpline numbers are available here. Please reach out if you or anyone you know is in need of support. The All-India helpline number is: 022-27546669

With inputs from agencies

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