The body of Rafeeq Abdul Razak, who died of a heart attack in Saudi Arabia on February 27, had finally arrived at the Cochin International Airport on Thursday, or at least, that is what his family thought when they received his coffin. However, a few hours later, they were in for the shock of their lives when they opened the coffin on their way to Rafeeq’s native place in Kummannoor, Pathanamthitta district. It was not Rafeeq’s body; it was the body of a woman in the coffin.
The deceased woman has been identified as a Sri Lankan national. Now, while the woman’s body is in Kerala, Rafeeq’s body is in Colombo in Sri Lanka. “It was a mistake from the part of the Saudi Arabia Airlines at the Jeddah airport,” an official of the airlines in Kochi told TNM.
The identification tags for both the coffins somehow got exchanged at Abha International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Both the bodies were sent to their respective destinations on Saudi Arabia Airlines, the national carrier of the Kingdom.
“The number for Rafeeq’s coffin was 35, but instead, the number tag of 32 was attached to his coffin,” said Bency Mohan of Navayugam, an organisation in Saudi Arabia that facilitates the repatriation of Indian bodies to their native states.
“When Rafeeq, who was working as a driver in Saudi Arabia, did not turn up for work, his sponsor went to his room and found him dead there,” Bency told TNM.
His sponsor and the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia helped Rafeeq’s family expedite the paperwork and made sure his body is transported to Kerala.
Now, with both the bodies in different countries, the officials of Saudi Arabian Airlines, also known as Saudia, are working towards exchanging the bodies.
“However, since both the coffins and the shrouds have been opened, the bodies will have to be embalmed again. We will embalm the Sri Lankan woman’s body here. Similarly, Rafeeq’s body will be embalmed in Colombo. So it will take one more day. The Saudia airlines’ offices in Cochin and Colombo are coordinating to exchange the bodies,” the airlines official told TNM.