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MEA steps in as kin say can’t afford to bring back body


Sadhana Patel’s body was found in a river near Paris; her husband, the prime suspect, is believed to be hiding in the UK

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) took cognisance of mid-day’s cover page stories on the mysterious death of Mumbai beautician Sadhana Patel near Paris and contacted the Embassy of India in Paris for an update. The Government of India is ready to extend all possible help to Sadhana’s family that is yet to believe that she is no more. Sadhana’s kin also say they do not have the money to bring back her mortal remains.

As per Sadhana’s burial permit, issued by Michael Gihr, vice president in-charge of the investigation at the judicial court of Paris on May 31, says her highly decomposed body, discovered from a river near Paris on April 4, is no longer needed for the investigation. mid-day has a copy of the burial permit.

“Considering the diligent procedure and in particular the report of April 4, 2022 (Procedure 4444/2022 police station of Conflans Sainte Honorine) noting the death of a female individual whose body was transported to the mortuary of Garches and registered under the number M22-166 Tried Sur Seine,” reads the burial permit. “Considering that it is no longer useful, for the discovery of the truth, to postpone the burial of the body of Sadhana Patel born in Amravati, Maharashtra and whose death was recorded on April 4, 2022.”

Sadhana Patel and her husband Shailesh allegedly illegally entered France in 2018 but became estranged after some time
Sadhana Patel and her husband Shailesh allegedly illegally entered France in 2018 but became estranged after some time

However, Sadhana’s Malad-based sister refuses to believe that she is not alive, insisting that the family has not been shown a photograph of the body. “They have sent us the photos of her belongings which are of no use to us. How can we ascertain if the body, which they’re saying is of my sister, belongs to Sadhana?”

Who’ll bring the body

On May 24, the Embassy of India in Paris contacted Sadhana’s family via an email asking: “Please let us know how the family intends to repatriate the body back to India.” On June 1, Sadhana’s brother Gaurav Labade replied: “Our financial condition is bad and hearing the irreparable loss, the mental condition of my mother has deteriorated. So, we regret to say that we cannot come to Paris. You please cremate the body there in Paris.”

On June 8, the Embassy of India in Paris conveyed the message of French authorities which said: “It is necessary that a person representing the family appoints them to proceed with cremation. This service is chargeable. Thereafter, the ashes are given to the principal, it is up to you to have them repatriated to India.” 

“It is possible to compile a social assistance file so that funeral expenses are covered by contacting the Paris 14 social action center. Here again, someone has to take care of the constitution of the file. I got in touch with them in order to know the procedure to follow and they must call me back tomorrow, I will come back to you at that time. If no one mandates the funeral directors, the body will be buried in the ‘carré des indigents’ in the cemetery of Thiais (94), it is up to you to explain this situation to the family,” reads the mail by French officials.

Gaurav said, “The Embassy of India in Paris had given us a list of agencies and they have been demanding huge money for repatriation of the mortal remains from Paris to India. The charges vary between Rs 5 lakh to Rs 15 lakh which we cannot afford. It will really be helpful if the government of India helps us bring the body back to our hometown.”

‘Sought help from all’

Gaurav said they sought help from their local legislator. “We have approached a local MLA from Gujarat Pradipsinh Jadeja to help them bring the mortal remains. We are getting the documents ready for the same.” A highly placed source in the MEA said that the Embassy of India in Paris is aware of the case and officials are taking all measures to assist Sadhana’s family.

“These are consular issues which we do not make any comment on. The brother of the deceased is directly in touch with the Embassy of India in Paris. The Gujarat government is also trying to help the family in India,” said the government source.

“The body is really bad in shape and it can only be recognised after a DNA test. If they want to bring the body back to India, I am not sure whether they have money to bring it but if it has to be brought at government expense, there are certain requirements for it and one has to go through the procedures,” he said. The government source said that the family in India is giving ambiguous responses to the Embassy of India in Paris on whether they want to bring the body back to India. 

“The family is yet to make a decision whether they want to cremate the body in Paris or they want to bring back the body to India. So, there is no clear message from the family till now. Also, her estranged husband has run away from the country, I don’t know for what reasons and that’s a different issue altogether. So, the question arises what will happen with the body which is lying in the morgue?” said the source.

Either the family or the government will need to pay for bringing back the body from France to India, the source said. “In certain cases, yes, we have helped the people who really cannot really afford to bring the body back from foreign nations. So, in this particular case, the Embassy of India in Paris will take the decision based on the situation as the Gujarat government is also involved now to help the family.”

Also Read: Mumbai: Refused money, man posts his girlfriend’s nude pictures online

“Yes, we have contacted the Embassy of India in Paris after [mid-day] report [published on June 16] and got to know about the above development. The Embassy of India is taking all measures to assist the family,” the source added. Gaurav told mid-day that the Embassy of India in Paris has sent a mail regarding procedures for transporting mortal remains to India.

4
Date in April when Sadhana’s body was found



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