Expat, whose passport was taken away, flies home after 14 years in Dubai

Ashwani Kumar /Dubai Filed on November 4, 2020


When he landed in Dubai in 2006, his recruitment agent seized his hand-written passport and someone else used it to exit the country.

A stranded Indian expat — who according to official records exited the UAE in December 2006 — is finally going home after a long wait of 14 years.

Swaminandam Tandrala, who hails from the Indian state of Telangana, belongs to a poor family of farmers. He was promised a job in Dubai by a recruitment agency. In October 2006, when he landed in Dubai, his recruitment agent seized his hand-written passport and didn’t offer the job. Worse, someone else used his passport to exit the country, leaving Tandrala to fend for himself without any legal documents.

“I have seen the worst days of my life. I worked as a helper to plumbers, technicians, mechanics in Dubai and Sharjah. I held on as I had no option to leave without a passport. I missed my family and children but I was stranded.”

Amid the pandemic, the odd-job opportunities dried up and Tandrala landed on the streets, often sleeping outdoors or on rooftops. “I used to sleep on the road. I struggled to even eat for days.”

Help pours in

Tandrala tried availing of previous amnesties but since his immigration status showed him as an Indian passport-holder who had exited the country, his papers couldn’t be processed.

Moved by his plight, someone referred his case to the India Social and Cultural Centre (ISC) in Abu Dhabi, who took up the matter with the Consulate-General in Dubai. Officials from the consulate coordinated with the local authorities to arrange an emergency certificate for Tandrala.

“He had no legal document. So, with the help of the local authorities we are able to ensure the safe return of a person who has been stuck here for so long,” said an official from the consulate.

ISC community welfare secretary Raja Srinivasa Rao Aita said Tandrala’s family is eagerly awaiting his return.

“His family can’t believe he is finally returning. The Telangana Friends Association here has offered the air ticket. The missions and community united to help him,” Aita said.

As he counted the hours to be with his family again, Tandrala expressed his gratitude to everyone who helped him survive the hardships he had been through.

“When I came here in 2006, my two kids were babies. Now they must be teenagers. I am eager to meet them. I am taking chocolates for them,” Tandrala said while on his way to Dubai International Airport to catch his night flight to Hyderabad. “I will go back and do farming.”


Ashwani Kumar

I am a newspaperman from the emirate of Abu Dhabi. A journalist at heart. I get my stories from the streets. A south Indian born in the Hindi heartland, I easily connect with people from different nationalities and cultures. I am calm like a monk, sensitive and very patient reporter. On the ground, I cover a range of topics related to community, health, embassy, tourism, transport, business and sports. I will go out on a leg to do what’s right and stand by what I believe in.

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