Jobless Indian lives on terrace for eight months

Jobless Indian lives on terrace for eight months

Ajman - The one-eyed man in his early forties has been desperately trying to return home to Kollam, Kerala, where his wife, two children and ageing parents await him.

By VM Sathish

Published: Mon 21 Nov 2016, 10:08 PM

An Indian man has been living on the terrace of a building for more than eight months without proper food just because his employer has not returned his passport after settling his dues.
Sajeev Rajan, an Indian electrician who worked for a Sharjah-based construction company, has spent 236 days on the terrace because he does not have a job or money to get a bed space. The one-eyed man in his early forties has been desperately trying to return home to Kollam, Kerala, where his wife, two children and ageing parents await him.
Speaking to Khaleej Times from his 'apartment' - a shabby mattress laid on the barren concrete terrace of a six-storeyed building in Ajman - Sajeev said he is exhausted. He stayed on the terrace even during the harsh UAE summer. He has been surviving with the generosity of some construction workers and shop owners in the neighbourhood.
"Please send me home or I will die here ... there is no money for food or room," he said.
"I was living in the company accommodation for two years. My contract ended on March 11 and I wanted to go home. Working for Dh900 per month did not meet my expectations."
Sajeev said his employer was not ready to relieve him from work and send him back home after clearing his gratuity and leave salary.
"When my boss refused to settle my dues and release my passport, I went to the Sharjah immigration department with a complaint. Afterwards, my boss has been trying to delay the process. He is not abiding by the court order. He also filed an absconding case against me even though I had not absconded."
Braving odds
On March 21, Sajeev was forced to vacate the company accommodation in Ajman.
"Even when the temperature reached nearly 50 degree Celcius I had to stay here. I do not have money for food, but a restaurant owner gives me food. One person gives me Dh3 per day for breakfast.
According to Sajeev, he has approached the labour court "several times", the Indian Consulate, community associations and others "but nobody could help me".
"The employer from Punjab, India, promises to return my passport in front of officials who mediate for my release, but once he leaves their office, he refuses to hand it over to me," Sajeev said.
Residents in the area told Khaleej Times that the jobless man has been living in a very pathetic situation for eight months and needs urgent repatriation to his home country.
"We have been helping him for months with three meals per day because otherwise he will die of starvation," an owner of a restaurant in Ajman said.
"Everybody here knows his condition and we are wondering why his passport is still detained."

 Indian Consulate 'aware' of issue
Indian Consulate officials have confirmed that they are aware of Sajeev's problems. According to the officials, "He (Sajeev) came to the consulate in September and we called the employer to the consulate. He agreed to return the passport and send him to India by October 2.
However, after that nobody contacted us and we did not know that the issue is still pending." According to Sajeev, he did not have the money to go to the consulate or to make phone calls.
The employer says...
Speaking to Khaleej Times, the employer, SS, from Punjab, India, said: "He has been overstaying .There is a fine of around Dh6,000 in Sharjah, and I have cleared the dues. He himself is responsible for his problems. I have pardoned him from the absconding case."

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