Mumbai-based Puneet Mehra along with his father and late mother's photo (Picture credits: Twitter)
Mumbai-based Puneet Mehra along with his father and late mother's photo (Picture credits: Twitter)

Indian embassy in Beijing expresses concern over stranded remains of Mumbai-based woman, says situation in China equally tragic

ANI | Updated: Feb 18, 2020 17:47 IST

Beijing [China], Feb 17 (ANI): Expressing concern over the mortal remains of 63-year-old Rita Mehra not being brought back to India yet, the Indian Embassy in Beijing on Monday stated that the situation that China is currently undergoing through is "equally tragic".
"In this regard, it is to intimate you that the Embassy is also very concerned about this issue and while we have full sympathy with you and your family at this tragic time that you all are passing through, but equally tragic is the situation that China is currently undergoing through," the Embassy said in a statement.
The Mumbai-based family is awaiting the body of one of their family members for over 23 days, stuck in China due to coronavirus outbreak.
Since there are not flights or ships coming from China to India, the body of Mehra is still stranded in the Chinese capital. She died in flight while returning from Australia via Beijing with her son Puneet Mehra, a dentist, on January 24.
"Seeking and urging the Government of India to help me and my father, get my mother's remains back to Mumbai, India," Puneet tweeted earlier today.
The dentist, in a letter, addressed to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that his mother passed away on the flight that resulted in an emergency landing of the Air China CA 166 aircraft at Zhengzhou airport, Henan.
"I have returned back to India but my mother's body is still at Henan Province Provincial Hospital morgue. It's been 18 days now and my mother's body is still there. I request you to help me transport my mother's remains to Mumbai, India so that her last rights can be done here respectfully," the letter read.
The Indian Embassy, meanwhile, said that the outbreak of the deadly virus epidemic that has already claimed more than 1700 lives in mainland China has "completely derailed normal life" in the East Asian country, particularly in Hubei and adjoining provinces due to "severity of the spread and number of deaths that have taken place so far."
The Chinese Government has taken unprecedented measures and few even draconian steps to control the epidemic, which is not willing to subside so far, the Embassy added.
"As a consequence of the above, there is delay in transportation of the mortal remains of Late Mrs. Rita Rajinder Mehra to India by the Agency that you have hired in this regard," it said.
As per existing regulations in China, funeral homes located in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou only are authorised to carry out embalming and anti-sepsis procedures with mortal remains of a foreigner for air transportation. As of now, the Chinese Government, in view of new corona virus epidemic, has placed complete restrictions on the Funeral Homes from accepting a body from any place out of these three cities, the Embassy said.
"It means these Funeral Homes can only deal with the body that pertains to the respective city. Another major obstacle is transporting mortal remains of late Mrs. Rita Rajinder Mehra by road from Morgue of Zhengzhou, Henan province to Beijing due to severe restrictions on inter provincial movements," the statement said.
The Embassy further stressed that it has started pursuing the matter with the relevant authorities to see if there is any possibility for the transportation of mortal remains from Henan to Beijing and further to India
"Yet we can not predict at this stage whether our pursuance would melt Chinese authorities. However, we will try our hardest and hope as well as pray that we succeed. We will let you know any development/update in this regard the moment it comes to our notice," it said. (ANI)