Muscat: In a move to help alleviate the mental trauma of Indian families whose relatives pass away abroad, the Indian government Tuesday introduced an online system that will enable them to track the repatriation of the mortal remains.
Launching the portal, which can be accessed at the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) website (www.moia.gov.in), External Affairs Minister and Minister for Overseas Indians' Affairs (MOIA) Sushma Swaraj said the portal "is an important step" to help the Indian Diaspora, especially the seven million Indians in the Emigration Check Required (ECR) countries.
The portal has been launched for the 17 ECR countries, Oman, Malaysia, Jordan, the UAE, Yemen, Lebanon, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Libya, Sudan, Syria and Thailand. The facility would soon be extended to the other Indian missions abroad.
"This online system will help the Indian families a lot. Now onwards, they will not have to run from pillar to post to track transportation of their relative's mortal remains. They have to upload the deceased's details on the MOIA's website section and have to retain the unique number provided to them after the completion of the online forms. As soon as the details are uploaded, mission houses will feed in the details, which can be accessed by the applicant," an Indian Embassy official in Muscat said.
The applicant will receive updates through e-mail and SMS on the status of the transportation and stay updated by using the tracking facility.
According to the embassy official, around 500 Indians die every year in Oman and some 100 of them are buried here while bodies of the rest are repatriated.
"The online system will ease procedures at both ends and the application will be closed only after the mortal remains are either transported or the Indian mission provides valid reasons for not being able to transport the same," the official added.
Normally, the bodies of those who die of natural causes take about a week to 10 days to be transported to India, while in the case of unnatural death, like accident or crime, the bodies get stuck for weeks as the police case or post-mortem examination is pending.
According to Swaraj, the portal is aimed to alleviate the problem and anxiety of families who are waiting for the mortal remains of their kin to reach home. The minister said already around 100 cases of deaths of Indians have been fed into the portal from the ECR countries.
She clarified that it would not matter if the Indian who died had travelled to the foreign country illegally. "It is the responsibility of the government to bring back the bodies safely," she said.
Most of the Indian expatriates abroad hail from the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, eastern Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Kerala.
Keeping in view the educational status of ECR passport holders, the system has also been linked to the Overseas Workers Resource Centre (OWRC), which is an information facilitation as well as complaint redressal centre for the emigrants, said the statement.
Those who cannot fill in the information directly into the system can provide the same to the OWRC on a toll free no - 1800-113090 and the OWRC would submit the information. The OWRC is equipped to receive information in 11 languages - English, Hindi, Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Oriya and Gujarati.
Last year, around 4,000 bodies of Indians were transported back from the Gulf region, including nearly 1,500 from Saudi Arabia.
The overseas Indian community is estimated at over 25 million-strong.
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