Repatriation of bodies to India: Dubai welfare group calls for abolition of 'flawed' system

'CARe' was launched in August to expedite the overseas transfer of deceased Indian nationals, but the group claims it has only inflicted additional 'mental trauma' on families

by

Mazhar Farooqui

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Published: Fri 26 Jan 2024, 2:14 PM

Last updated: Fri 26 Jan 2024, 11:28 PM

Dubai-based social welfare organisation, Pravasi India, has raised concerns about the Indian government's CARe (electronic clearance for repatriation of mortal remains) system, launched in August 2023 to expedite the swift transfer of deceased Indian nationals from abroad.

On Thursday, January 25, Pravasi India submitted a memorandum to the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, urging the abolition of the portal. They argue that the system has deviated from its intended purpose due to bureaucratic complexities, tying errors, and insufficient flight availability.

Hafisul Haq, Pravasi India's media secretary, stated that extended delays caused by eCARe portal procedures have inflicted 'immense mental trauma' and 'financial difficulties' on affected families, often exceeding the system's intended approval timeframe of 12 hours.

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During a meeting with First Secretary Prem Chand and Community Affairs Attache Gaurav Kumar Singh at the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, Pravasi India representatives, including UAE President Abdulla Savad, presented a memorandum outlining concerns and proposed remedial measures.

The memorandum highlights that minor errors in documents, coupled with the portal's absence of error notifications, intensify anxiety for applicants, especially affecting low-income individuals and those lacking social support. Delays in eCARe approval disrupt travel plans for accompanying persons, and the limited flights exacerbate repatriation challenges, particularly with a higher number of Indian expatriates in the UAE, according to the memorandum.

Pravasi India, which assisted in the repatriation of six bodies in January, advocates for abolishing the eCARe system. They propose leveraging existing infrastructure like embassies and consulates for quicker document reviews and approvals. Additionally, they recommend implementing prior clearance for embalming and emphasising compassionate procedures, timely communication, and equal access for vulnerable groups.

Contrary to Pravasi India's concerns, UAE-based Indian social figure Ashraf Thamarassery dismisses them, stating that the system is seamless, offering faster processing compared to previous procedures. Ashraf, honoured with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman in 2015, has been transporting bodies from the UAE for over two decades.

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