That’s when Nagpal’s elder son Tarandeep, also a student in Australia, put out an appeal on Facebook to help send his brother’s remains back home.
Within days, generous strangers from across the world had donated AUD 58,000 (Rs 28.8 lakh) for the family’s cause — twice the amount the man had set out to collect.
On Friday evening, Ramandeep’s body reached home in a coffin aboard an Air India repatriation flight under Vande Bharat Mission, bringing an end to the agonising 11-day wait for his kin.
Nagpal performed the last rites of his son on Saturday in their native village of Bari Rai in Uttarakhand’s US Nagar district.
“This was possible only because people showed such kindness, else we had given hope,” said one of Ramandeep’s uncle. Tarandeep decided to take to crowdfunding when he contacted a private funeral service in Victoria and was informed that he would have to shell out AUD 11,000 (Rs 5.4 lakh) for repatriation along with a daily expense of AUD 450 (Rs 22,000) to preserve the body until a flight became available.
“The family could not afford a sum like this. Both brothers had taken student loans to go to Australia. On May 15, the elder son started a Facebook page called Tarandeep’s Family Fundraiser to collect AUD 30,000 (Rs 15 lakh) to cover costs. Soon, donations started pouring in. People contributed anywhere between AUD 100 to AUD 300 and in just over 10 days, Tarandeep had collected double the amount he needed,” a close family friend told TOI.
After the body arrived at the Delhi airport, the family ran into trouble trying to get necessary clearances to take the remains to Uttarakhand. BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi who happened to be nearby and learned about the family’s distress arranged for them to get permits as well as an ambulance, according to Sarabjeet Singh, Tarandeep’s uncle.