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Chinki Sinha, Indian Express: No claimant for Becky, died of AIDS; Body awaits final Tihar release

No claimant for Becky, died of AIDS; Body awaits final Tihar release
by Chinki Sinha, August 11, 2011

New Delhi: Even in death, Becky is waiting her release. Her emaciated body is lying at the morgue in Deen Dayal Upadhyay (DDU) Hospital, waiting for a claimant.

Becky spent around seven years in Tihar in a separate cell battling HIV-AIDS and oscillating between sanity and outbursts. Officials of the country’s most high-security prison are trying to trace a relative who will come and take her body.

Inmates mourn the death of a woman who mingled with them, laughed and cried and even sorted out their issues. But the last few months saw, the 54-year-old living a subdued life, wasting away till she succumbed last week.

The body now belongs to Delhi Police. As per rules, they will hold on to it till they can trace a relative. But no family is coming forward to do so.

A brother, who the prison officials called up in Holland said he could not come. Officials even tried tracing her family in Nigeria. But, failed to do so. Meanwhile, Becky’s body, embalmed and secured, waits on a cold bunker for a warm touch to take it away.

Then they tried the Malawi Embassy. Becky was travelling on a Malawi passport when she was held in 2005 for allegedly being involved in a case under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

The Malawi embassy sent an official to verify the passport. As per the spokesperson, it was found to be fraudulent.

“The issue was brought to us on August 4 but it appears the lady was travelling on a fake passport. The police got in touch with the High Commission and we checked if she has a relative in Malawi, but we did not find anyone,” the Malawai High Commission spokesperson told Newsline.

“We also checked her passport but it was fraudulently issued. She was not a Malawi citizen. Therefore, we can’t take the body,” he added.

Becky, as she was popularly called by the inmates, was loved and feared. “She shouted expletives in her loud voice. And that was it. Matters were resolved where Becky was approached,” one prison official said.

A letter from an inmate was on the table. The inmates wanted to send her belongings back to her family in Nigeria. They would find someone, it said.

The prison authorities had already got a bag from the prison fund and had put her belongings in it.

All her term in the prison, Becky seldom allowed anyone inside her cell. She received gifts and little money from her friends back home.

“We thought she was Nigerian. That’s what she said. We want her to have a proper burial as per the religion she followed,” another official said.

The Nigerian Embassy had been contacted and they refused to claim the body.

”We want to do the best we can. We want to see if we can try and give her a proper Christian burial,” the jail superintendent said.

A doctor at the mortuary said the police will eventually have to dispose the body.

“We usually wait for 10-15 days for someone to come and collect the body. She is here at present,” he said.

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