Days after Hindustan Times reported about the difficulties faced by Delhi resident Gopal Ram’s family in flying back his body from Japan, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj intervened to ensure that Ram’s corpse reached India late on Saturday.
Forty-eight-year-old Ram had passed away in Tokyo on December 10 after a heart attack. HT had carried a story in its December 18th edition highlighting Ram’s kin’s inability to bear the cost of bringing his body back.
The Union minister took notice of the story, after which the ministry of external affairs bore the expenses of flying back Ram’s body.
Ram’s wife Radha Devi thanked the MEA, the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) and the Indian Embassy in Japan for their assistance. “It is because of them, that I could at least see him one last time. I can say goodbye (to him) properly now. I will forever be grateful to Sushma Swaraj and Swati Maliwal (DCW chief),” she said.
While the family is now relieved because they will be able to perform Ram’s last rites, they are uncertain about the future.
“I have two sons and a daughter. I don’t know how I will afford their education. My husband was the sole bread winner. My oldest son is awaiting his CA results, but it will take some time before he finds a job. I myself never studied beyond the fifth grade,” Radha said.
According to Ram’s son Jatin, the family lacked resources and his father’s demise further deteriorated their condition. “My father did not have any savings. We received `50,000 because of his life insurance. But in this day and age, how long will that last? he asked.
Ram worked as a cook in India and took an agent’s offer to work in Tokyo with an aim to provide better support to his family.
However, after the first three months, he allegedly stopped getting his salary. “My husband had gone to Tokyo hoping to earn a better living for himself and the family. But now he has been cheated of his life, and I have been left begging for money to conduct his final rites,” Radha said.
She said the agent, who arranged Ram’s travel, promised him a cook’s job in Tokyo but the deceased was forced to “clean gutters”.
The family is now hopeful of getting financial assistance from the government. “The government has helped us out a lot... I hope they can help us further. Bas chula jal jaye, aur kuch nahin chahiye,” Radha said.