Indian man Parminder Singh Jabbal, who died in a road accident in Bay of Plenty, on early morning Wednesday, July 11, will be taken back home Punjab, thus bringing a final closure to everyone involved in the tragic situation.
Mr Jabbal, 27, originally from Ludhiana, Punjab, was in a living relationship with Rotorua woman Saraiah Waerea and the couple was expecting their first child in two months time.
Mr Jabbal and Ms Waerea entered into a relationship at the beginning of 2017 and moved in together later before finding out in March this year that they were expecting their first child.
Mr Jabbal came from India three years ago on a student visa to study healthcare and had received his work visa just four months ago.
The unfortunate news of tragic death had been doubly torturous for both Ms Waerea and Mr Jabbal’s family back in India, with both seeking the right of performing last rites and keeping his remains.
Ms Waerea had told the NZ Herald that she and Mr Jabbal's family in India did not agree about what to do with his remains.
“They had offered to bring her to India, she said, but she was afraid to go alone and, in any case, had been told she could not fly at this stage of her pregnancy.”
She wanted him to be cremated and his ashes split between her and his family in India "so we can both have a piece of him."
Jabbal's brother Jasneet Singh said the family wanted to bring his body home to India to receive last rites.
From Left: Ms Waerea's brother Pika Henry, Local constable Shammi Singh, community member Kharag Singh aka Sidhu Singh, Ms Waerea (Parminder Jabbal's partner) and Sergeant Simon Betichitti (Picture courtesy: Harjinder Basiala)
To avert any further escalation of this sensitive issue during such unfortunate times for Ms Waerea and Mr Jabbal’s family back in India, local community members from Auckland and Rotorua took the lead to counsel both parties so as an early closure could be brought to everyone involved.
Speaking to The Indian Weekender Kharag Singh, an Auckland based businessman and a prominenyt face of the Punjabi community, who was closely involved in counselling and mediation process, along with fundraising for funeral and body repatriation costs, “Finally we can bring some closure to everyone involved, which was our topmost priority.”
Earlier, the coroner, on being apprised of mutually contrasting wishes with regards to performing last rites of Mr Jabbal had offered to seek high court’s verdict – a situation that triggered collective action by community, police, and others involved in the tragic situation.
Kharag Singh took the initiative upon himself along with some other members of Punjabi community, Swaran Singh and Harjinder Basiala, and sought to meet with Ms Waerea along with representatives of NZ Police in Rotorua.
The meeting, had the active presence of local constable Shammi Singh and Senior Sargent Simon Betichitti, along with a local Maori Warden Constable Lehi Hohaia from Rotorua Police, which went for many hours before an amicable decision could be made.
Fortunately, Ms Waerea and Mr Jabbal’s family were in good speaking terms before this tragic incident and both sides have demonstrated sensitivity to each other’s emotional plight ever since the incident to allay the pain they are going through.
Mr Jabbal’s family had earlier offered to bring Ms Waerea along with him to perform last rites together. However, Ms Waerea’s heavy pregnancy stage prevented that possibility.
Also, they were contemplating to book flights to New Zealand when told about her reservations to allow his repatriation back to India.
This mutual goodwill, along with laborious efforts of members of the community and New Zealand Police, was critical in bringing an amicable closure to an intense and highly sensitive issue.
The coroner agreed to release the body of Mr Jabbal to Kharag Singh, who despite being unrelated to the deceased took the responsibility of being local guardian, on the condition that Mr Singh will give access to Ms Waerea and her family in Rotorua to allow her to give her last goodbyes before he could be repatriated back to his family in India.
This decision, despite bringing an additional cost on repatriation, was the best possible and amicable outcome to this unfortunate situation.
The broader Kiwi-Indian community had played its role in generously supporting Mr Singh’s appeal for fundraising to bear the cost of repatriation when a total of $17,840 was raised till the time of writing of this story.
Mr Singh told The Indian Weekender that thanks to community’s generous support we will able to bear the cost of funeral home and body repatriation without requiring financial help from the office of the High Commission of India.
High Commissioner of India, Sanjiv Kohli told The Indian Weekender, “We have worked very closely with the community and authorities in this very sad and unfortunate case of untimely death.
“I am overwhelmed and gratified by the solidarity and support demonstrated by our community. I thank each and every one of them.”