Mumbai man seeks govt help to get mother’s mortal remains back from China; body in Zhengzhou since 24 Jan due to restrictions on movement of people

  • A doctor from Mumbai has sought help from the Indian government to get his mother's body back from China, which is hit by the coronavirus epidemic

  • The body has been kept at the morgue of a hospital in Zhengzhou since 24 January

  • A major obstacle in transporting the mortal remains from the morgue of Zhengzhou to Beijing is severe restrictions on inter-provincial movements

Mumbai: A doctor from Mumbai has sought help from the Indian government to get his mother's body back from China, which is hit by the coronavirus epidemic. The body has been kept at the morgue of a hospital in Zhengzhou since 24 January, when Rita Rajinder Mehra died.

Dentist Puneet Mehra, 35, told PTI that the Embassy of India at Beijing informed him on Monday that the transportation of his mother's body has got delayed in view of the restrictions on movement of people and vehicles in China after the coronavirus epidemic in the neighbouring country.

 Mumbai man seeks govt help to get mother’s mortal remains back from China; body in Zhengzhou since 24 Jan due to restrictions on movement of people

Representational image. Getty images

The Bandra-based doctor has, thus, sought desperate help from the central government to get back his mother's body at the earliest so that her last rites can be performed with due respect.

According to the doctor, on 24 January, he and his mother were travelling from Melbourne to Mumbai via Beijing on Air China flight. After about nine hours of the flight take-off, his mother went to the lavatory. But, as she failed to return to her seat, Mehra alerted the crew. The lavatory door was later opened and Mehra's mother was found in an unconscious state, he said.

A doctor and a nurse, who were among the passengers, and the crew tried cardiopulmonary resuscitation and later the plane made an emergency landing at Zhengzhou Airport, but the woman died by then, he said. Puneet Mehra returned on 7 February, but his mother's body is still at the morgue of Henan Provincial Hospital in Zhengzhou.

The doctor has written to President Ram Nath Kovind, office of the External Affairs Ministry and the Ambassador of India in Beijing to help in getting back the body. "I have also written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and requested the government to facilitate the process of transportation of my mother's remains back to Mumbai at the earliest so that the last rites can be performed with due respect," Mehra said.

He said this situation has caused a lot of stress to him and my family. "It has been over 24 days now and we are extremely shattered and going through a lot of emotional stress in this helpless situation," he said.

He said the hospital in China initially issued a certificate mentioning the cause of his mother's demise as 'death before rescue'. After three days, the hospital gave Mehra another certificate mentioning the cause as "sudden cardiac death very likely". Later, another certificate was issued mentioning the cause as "sudden death", he said.

Mehra further said he got a reply from Arvind Kumar (Consular) at the Embassy of India in China, saying the embassy is also very concerned about the issue and has full sympathy with the family at this tragic time.

But, China is also facing an equally tragic situation. The outbreak of the new coronavirus epidemic has "completely derailed normal life" in China, particularly in Hubei and adjoining provinces, due to severity of the spread and number of deaths that have taken place so far, he said. In a bid to contain spread of the virus, the Chinese government has put up widespread and severe restrictions on the movement of people and vehicles.

This has resulted in hardest obstacles in inter-provincial movement of people and vehicles. Hence, there is a delay in transportation of the mortal remains of Rita Rajinder Mehra to India by the agency hired by Puneet Mehra, Kumar said in his reply. The consular also said that as per the existing regulations in China, funeral homes in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou only are authorised to carry out embalming and anti-sepsis procedures of mortal remains of a foreigner for air transportation.

As of now, the Chinese government has placed complete restrictions on the funeral homes from accepting a body from any place out of these three cities. It means these funeral homes can only deal with the body that pertains to the respective city, he mentioned.

Another major obstacle in transporting the mortal remains from the morgue of Zhengzhou to Beijing is severe restrictions on inter-provincial movements, he informed Mehra. "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 the Chinese authorities," Kumar said.

"However, we will try our hardest and hope as well as pray that we succeed. We will let you know any development or update in this regard the moment it comes to our notice," he told Mehra.

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Updated Date: Feb 19, 2020 12:29:11 IST