A Right To Information (RTI) reply given by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) revealed that 12,223 Indian nationals have died in various foreign countries in the 17 months between January 2018 and May 2019.
The RTI request was filed by Mumbai-based activist Jatin Desai. He said that he had earlier filed a query with the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs seeking the details of Indian nationals who have died in foreign prisons, and foreigners who have died in Indian jails during the 18-month period between January 2018 and June 2019.
Desai stated that he now plans to file fresh RTI queries seeking details on causes of deaths; whether the deceased were tourists, NRIs, business travellers or belonged to other categories; and if required, follow up with other measures.
“We also need to know in which countries they have died and whether they lost their lives due to some illnesses, accidents, attacks in foreign lands or sheer lack of medicare, and whether they were adequately insured or if they were granted compensation in case of unnatural deaths when their bodies were returned, etc,” Desai said.
“We also need to know the kind of assistance they secured from Indian embassies/consulates abroad when they were in distress,” he added.
He also urged the members of different political parties to raise the issue in the winter session of Parliament.
An RTI request by Venkatesh Nayak of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) last year also revealed that at least 24,570 Indian workers died in the six Gulf countries between 2012 and mid-2018.
According to information on the CHRI website, 10,416 of the deaths were in Saudi Arabia. The report also stated that none of the Indian government’s safeguards for workers in Gulf countries include any mention of steps taken to study the trend of workers’ deaths.