The family of deceased Indian national Lakhvir Singh have finally conducted his last rites, almost 20 days after his passing.
Lakhvir Singh's body was repatriated via Air New Zealand charter flight on Monday night to New Delhi, the same plane that flew to bring back Kiwis stranded in India due to global travel restrictions amid Covid-19 pandemic.
Lakhvir Singh living in Paihia died of a massive cardiac arrest on Friday, April 10 just outside his house after coming back from a casual walk. The ambulance service attending the emergency failed to revive him, and he died around 4 p.m.
Lakhvir Singh's father called the Hon Consul of India, Bhav Dhillon thanking him and the Indian High Commission for arranging the body repatriation of their beloved son.
Lakhvir's father also informed him that his beloved son's final rites have also been finally conducted.
Ever since Lakhvir's untimely and unfortunate demise, his family in India desperately appealed to repatriate his body back home for his family to conduct his last rites.
The lockdown prevailing in New Zealand at that point of time and the global travel restrictions put up an important question and challenge of repatriating the body overseas to his family back in India.
Lakhvir's cousin living in Auckland coordinated with the High Commission of India in Wellington, the Consulate Office in Auckland on the process and possibility of body repatriation of the deceased back home.
This repatriation has been possible only after exemplary coordination between the two governments
The High Commissioner of India in New Zealand, Muktesh Pardeshi took on social media platform Twitter thanking Air New Zealand, NZ Foreign Minister Winston Peters, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and Hon Consul Bhav Dhillon for their coordinational and exceptional support in transporting mortal remains of Lakhvir Singh Dandiwal to India in a special flight on Tuesday, April 28.
The first charter flight to bring stranded Kiwis back home landed in Auckland on Friday, April 24 from New Delhi and second flight from Mumbai landed last night in Christchurch with almost 200 Kiwi passengers.
Under Alert Level 4, and amid countrywide lockdown then, there was no specific rule in place for body repatriation, and the government had put strict rules around funerals and burials in New Zealand.
Minister for Ethnic Communities Jenny Salesa responding to The Indian Weekender query on clarity for body repatriation said that the government had no objections in facilitating the body repatriation of any deceased person during Alert Level 4 as long as families can avail the services of a commercial airline both locally in NZ and overseas destination.
"The Office of Ethnic Communities had raised this matter directly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and the Indian High Commission. MFAT has advised that repatriation of a deceased person is not subject to the lockdown rules," Minister Jenny Salesa had then said.
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