While the family back in India was still coping up with the shock, it didn't know that getting the body of their son would be even difficult. Thanks to the Indian bureaucracy and the complicated system of immigration check, which can sometimes be unneccessary, Sanjivi Natarajan (Sridhar's brother) experienced the dark side of Indian immigration system even in crisis.
Pressed for time, Sanjivi faced the disorganized system
"We started planning on getting Sanjivi to Nairobi Sunday night," said one of Sridhar's family members, further continuing,"but what awaited us in the next 48 hours was harrowing." According to the family, the MInistry of EXternal Affairs did not contact them and they had to make their own arrangements. Sanjivi had planned to take the early morning Qatar flight on Monday, but was stopped at the Chennai airport as he had not done his vaccination against Yellow fever, which is prevalent in Africa.
On contacting the officials, he was instructed to come to the Port Office anytime on the same day. Surprisingly, after he reached, he found the office shut evidently because of a miscommunication between the authorities. To add to his woes, Sanjivi was told that he could go for the vaccination only on WEdnesday, which would have been too late.
"Nevertheless, when he came back home, he got a call at 3.30pm, saying he should come back to the office for his vaccination, but now with a spare passport holder-since the rules mandate that two people must be travelling for a vial of yellow fever vaccine to be opened," said one family member. To this, Sanjivi responded aggressively saying that it was difficult for him to move to and fro and that there were other logistical reasons to cater to.
Sanjivi ran pillar to post for vaccination, which was not necessary at all.
On confrontation, the argument turned heated and the officials said that the family was acting pricey and that the government was extending all its help and support. After much hue and cry, the Minister of External Affairs Director arranged for a spare passport holder to show-up pro-forma. "There has been very little information flowing from the Ministry of External Affairs. We have had to do everything for ourselves. Their reaction has been shoddy, to say the least," said the family member.
Despite everything, the vaccination for Yellow Fever could not be administered to Sanjivi and the MEA had to contact the Indian Embassy in Nairobi to arrange for his vaccination on arrival and request the immigration authorities to exempt immigration.
Later, though, immigration authorities raised the prospect that Sanjivi may have been stopped in transit at Doha so that the MEA gets a second chance to get a vaccination done by Chennai's health authorities.
The vaccination procedure itself does not make any sense. Firstly, yellow fever vaccine takes a minimum of ten days to kick in, which means that Sanjivi would not be protected when he reached Nairobi. Secondly, the vaccination is for Kenyan visitors to India and not the other way around as the disease is endemic to Kenya and not our country.
India had nothing to lose within 48 hours, but Sridhar's family could have been spared a lot of pain in such a crisis had the ministry been forgiving, knowing its exceptions.