Saturday, September 26, 2020

Amnesiac migrant worker from UAE returns home after 16 years

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Hyderabad: Neela Rajavva’s efforts to bring her husband — who went to Dubai on a labour visa but then overstayed for over a decade due to his memory loss — back home have paid off. Neela Yellaiah. With the punitive measures looming over him if he did not leave the Emirates before August 18, he landed in Hyderabad after 16 years away from his family. That too, with the Emirati immigration authorities waiving his penalties for staying longer than his visa permitted.

In 2004, Yellaiah left Hyderabad to work in Dubai while his wife remained in their native village of Chinthamanpallli, Kamareddy district. She single-handedly raised their then-infant daughter, Sunanda, and took up labour jobs herself in Telangana.

As per the UAE’s immigration policies, those who stay in the country beyond their visa expiration date are required to pay a fine of 25 Dhs (Rs. 500) for every day they overstay. In Yellaiah’s case, he would owe the government 1.46 lakh Dhs (Rs. 29 lakhs) for the amount of time he technically spent as an illegal immigrant while providing for his family.

Although to leave the country before the amnesty period ended, he needed to be issued a temporary passport in the form of an Emergency Certificate (EC) by the Indian Consulate. This would not happen unless he would submit the passport details from when he entered the UAE.

The passport issued Yelliaiah

Luckily, civil society organizations came to the rescue.

Good Samaritans

When volunteering as a member of the ‘Jain Seva Mission’ (JSM) which was distributing ration to distressed migrant workers in the Sharjah, social worker Rupesh Mehta came across the distressed Yellaiah.

Rupesh Mehta with Yellaiah

Taking note of his plight, Mehta decided to help with acquiring an EC.  He then reached out to the Pravasi Mithra Labour Union — Hyderabad (PMLUH) who coordinated with Yellaiah’s family members, social workers in Dubai, the passport office in Hyderabad and the Indian Consulate — Dubai for those details.

 The PMLUH facilitated Neela Rajavva’s, Yellaiah’s wife, trip to the passport office in Hyderabad on August 3. Due to the pandemic, she was unable to meet the Regional Passport Officer.

With the clock ticking and the sword of financial penalties hanging over her husband’s head, migrants’ rights activist and PMLUH President Bheem Reddy Mandha submitted a petition to the passport officer via twitter on her behalf.

Early last month, Siasat.com reported that Rajavva’s request for the passport office to help accelerate the process of their father’s safe return before the amnesty period ended.

Upon heeding Rajavva’s request, the Hyderabad passport office got hold of the passport number and details and then shared them with the Consul General India. This relevant information and Labour Consuls Jitender Singh Negi and Harjeet Singh further paved the way for Yellaiah’s return. Not only did Mehta, Negi and Singh help with getting the Dubai immigration officials to waive the accumulated penalties, the Indian Consulate also paid for the airfare back to Hyderabad.

Yellaiah’s exit permit

Yellaiah’s wife received him at the Hyderabad airport and by Tuesday morning he was reunited with his whole family in Chinthamanpalli village. His mother was reduced to tears of happiness upon seeing him.  

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