Dubai, May 18 (PTI) 'I want to live the rest of my life in Kerala. Let my death be there in my motherland,' says a 79-year-old semi-paralysed Indian man in the UAE in an impassioned plea for help while seeking repatriation amid COVID-19 pandemic.
K Raghavan, who claims to have landed in the UAE in a wooden catamaran 52 years ago and ran two tailoring shops in Dubai and a trading company in Ajman, has been unable to fly home due to the fines he incurred after his business went bust.
The elderly man, who lost everything that he had earned in life by the time he fell sick with an ulcer and was eventually left semi-paralysed, is living with his wife in a cramped room in Dubai's Jaffiliya area.
His visa expired three years ago and he could not renew it as he has a liability of more than 60,000 dirhams (Rs 12.4 lakh) in fines in cases related to non-payment of rent and defaulting license renewals filed by the Ajman Free Zone, the Gulf News reported.
'I wouldn't have had this liability if my relative, who was taking care of the Ajman business, had not ditched me without making the payments,' Raghavan told the Dubai-based English daily over phone on Sunday.
He owed another 140,000 dirhams (Rs 28.9 lakh) to Dubai Hospital where he was treated. However, he was discharged following a request from the Indian Consulate in Dubai, the report said.
Raghavan says he has been struggling to survive as he has to spend money on medicines, apart from his accommodation, food and other regular expenses.
'I want to live the rest of my life in Kerala. Let my death be there in my motherland,' he said.
The ailing man is entirely dependent on his 65-year-old wife Sarojini, who was brought to the UAE on a visit visa by some well-wishers.
'We are worried about the spread of COVID-19 now,' Sarojini said.
The last time Raghavan visited home was in 2014. The couple is pinning their hopes on social workers and community members who have been campaigning for their repatriation.
'A few months ago, he had to be hospitalised again. We all helped him pay 7,000 dirhams (Rs 1.4 lakh) in bills while the private hospital waived an equal amount on our request. They will need support even after reaching Kerala. We are all trying to support them,' said community member Abdul Majeed Padoor.
The Indian government launched the 'Vande Bharat Mission' on May 7 to bring back Indians who were stranded in various countries due to coronavirus-related restrictions.
Under the phase one of the mission, the government evacuated a total of 6,527 Indians from the Gulf region and from other countries like the US, the UK, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Malaysia and the Maldives. PTI MRJ MRJ