The issue of repatriation of the mortal remains of Sanjeev Kumar, a truck driver, who died in Saudi Arabia of cardiac arrest and was buried according to Islamic rites, echoed in Himachal Pradesh Assembly on Tuesday.
Kumar was 42.
Una MLA Satpal Raizada, sought the intervention of the Himachal Pradesh government to bring back Kumar’s mortal remains so that the family can perform his last rites.
“The family, in distress, has knocked on almost every door. Wrote to Union Minister of State (Finance and Corporate Affairs) Anurag Thakur ji, who is local MP and honorable minister for external affairs, for repatriation of remains. Deputy Commissioner Una also visited the family and assured help. But, nothing has worked in the favour of the family,” Raizada told Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.
On February 6, Kumar’s mother, Kanta Devi died waiting to receive the mortal remains of her son. Kumar is survived by his wife Anju Kumar and three daughters who continue to wait for the mortal remains of the only bread earner of the family.
Raizada also said that there is also a need for the state government to come to the rescue of the family as Sanjeev Kumar was the only bread earner of the family and is survived by his wife and three daughters, one of them is also physically challenged.
Kumar breathed his last on January 24 after a cardiac arrest.
The death of Sanjeev Kumar caught attention after his wife moved the Delhi High Court seeking help to get his mortal remains and claimed that he was wrongly buried in Saudi Arabia as per Muslim rites due to incorrect translation of his religion on his death certificate by the Indian Consulate officials in Jeddah.
Efforts were made to approach Indian Embassy and also the ministry of external affairs for repatriation of mortal remains for performing rites at home. But, the real shock came when the family came to know that the local Saudi authorities have already performed his burial as per Islamic rites.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, who shared the concern, said, “Full facts of the case will be ascertained and MEA will definitely ask as to how the person was converted and buried despite him being a Hindu. It’s quite shocking and tragic. The government will definitely do its job”.
The Chief Minister also extended condolences to the man's family and regretted his burial which is against the customs of his religion.
“Chief Minister has assured that the state government will explore options to bring back his mortal remains,” said Raizada.
Kumar hailed from Una, a district in Himachal Pradesh bordering Punjab, and was working with a Saudi Arabia–based engineering firm – Salema Bin Saqr.
Sanjeev‘s cousin, Mohit Sharma, said, " my brother remained hospitalised for around a month. The family had no means to reach out to him as there were travel restrictions due to Covid-19. One of his friends attending to him kept updating the family. It was on January 24, 2021, he died in the hospital.”