Millions are still mourning the loss of veteran actress Sridevi who died in Dubai on Saturday (February 24). After her sudden demise, there were uncertainties over bringing the actress' body back home. When the repatriation process took longer than expected, a Kerala man, who runs a mechanics shop in Ajman, stepped in to expedite it and helped the actress' family to bring her mortal remains back home.
Ashraf "Sherry" Thamarassery came to light after his name figured in the official paperwork related to the repatriation of the deceased actress from Dubai. Media reports say that the Keralite is regarded as a ferryman of sorts for the foreign nationals who die in the UAE.
The death certificate issued to Sridevi's family by the authorities in Dubai also had a mention of Ashraf Thamarassery's name.
For Ashraf, who hails from Thamarassery in Kerala, India, it was one of among thousands of such cases he had helped in the repatriation process. A self-employed with a mechanics shop which he owns in UAE's Ajman, Ashraf is known for his philanthropic activities in the expatriate community.
Ashraf has played a major role in getting the bodies of deceased in Emirates ferried to their respective countries as he has helped repatriate over 4,000 bodies to 38 countries around the world, in the past few years, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
In an interview to the AP, Ashraf said, "For them, you or me, it's all the same and everyone is equal. If someone dies in their room, they will take them to the hospital and then be checked at the police mortuary."
"It's the same process, whether Dubai or Sharjah or any emirate. ... Whether you're poor or rich, it doesn't matter," added the Indian
How Ashraf speeded up the process
Ashraf described the situation after the sudden demise of Sridevi and said that he received hundreds of calls from journalists, officials, and many others — as he has been active in speeding the repatriation process of the foreign nationals who died in the UAE.
According to the AP report, after getting the clearance from the authorities, Ashraf rushed to a simple mortuary run by Dubai government to submit the papers needed to initiate embalming procedure for Sridevi's body.
He handed over the papers at the mortuary and the actress' corpse was embalmed along with the dead bodies of three others, Thamaraserry had got papers for.
After the embalmment procedure, an ambulance carried Sridevi's body to a private jet at the Dubai airport, which was sent by Indian Business Tycoon Anil Ambani— to ferry the actress' body to Mumbai, for cremation.
"I do this to earn blessings, but also when someone dies here, people don't know how to manage the repatriation procedures," the 44-year-old said, as he added, "That's why I do it."
Ashraf had received praise from the Prime Minister of India for his proactive efforts in extending help to foreign families in the repatriation procedure of the deceased so the final rites can be carried out. At his home in Ajman, shelves are decorated with the honors and awards he received for humanitarian gesture. A photo of Ashraf with PM Narendra Modi also hangs on the wall at his home, the AP reported.