The Indian community has raised funds to pay for the funeral expenses of one of the two Indian men who died of drowning in Victoria in December 2020.
Brisbane based Manjit Boparai, who organised the funeral, claims that the Indian High Commission is not responding to a request to foot the bill.
Mr Boparai started a fund-raising campaign on Facebook for the funeral and raised over $8,200.
The appeal, written in Punjabi, reads, “Three months back two international students in Melbourne died by drowning. The funeral of one of the victims was held in Melbourne. That bill is pending because we had appealed to the Indian High Commission to pay that bill. However, the High Commission is not responding to our request. So a payment of $3,200 is to be made to the funeral director.”
Two Indian nationals had drowned at Squeaky Beach, about 220 kilometres southeast of Melbourne, on Christmas Day last year.
Mr Boparai, who has repatriated the mortal remains of more than 300 Indian nationals since 2008, told NRI Affairs, “One of the boys was cremated here, and I committed at that time to pay for the funeral expenses. But we applied to the Indian Consulate, and they failed to pay the bill. They didn’t even bother to respond. Those families emailed all the details, filled up the forms and applied, but they never responded. Indians are so ashamed.”
Mr Boparai says many families of Indian nationals who die in Australia cannot afford to repatriate the bodies or are not aware of the process involved in claiming the expenses from the Indian government.
He says that he had raised the issue with the Indian High Commissioner in the past.
“In 2011, the then High Commissioner of India Ms Sujata Singh had come to Brisbane, and I asked her that while I collect money to send the dead bodies of Indians to India and you even did not pick up the phone, and you never respond. And then she decided to take it seriously.”
“Then they decided. Sometimes they pay, sometimes they don’t.”
When contacted, the Indian Consulate in Melbourne said that they would not comment on individual cases. However, they added that there was a process involved for such cases to be considered, on their merit, by the Indian government.