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‘We don’t know where our next meal will come from’

After spending days on empty stomach, homeless family of four urges police to put them behind bars

  • By Mazhar Farooqui, Deputy Editor
  • Published: 21:28 November 7, 2012
  • XPRESS

  • Image Credit:
  • DESPERATE SITUATION: Ishtiaq Hussain with wife Zainab said they had not eaten anything for 16 hours when XPRESS visited them at their temporary accommodation at a rundown Al Jafliya villa. The milk packs seen here were given by a friend and had been saved for their children - son Haider Ali and daughter Rida Zahra Xpress/ Abdel-Krim Kallouche

DUBAI: A family of four, including an eight-month pregnant woman and two children ages four and two is begging authorities to put them in jail so they won’t starve.

Rendered homeless and penniless after a series of catastrophic events, Pakistani Ishtiaq Hussain 34, approached Bur Dubai police station with the bizarre request on October 21 – the day his landlord threw them out over unpaid rent.

“I had no money and the kids were hungry. So we went to the police and pleaded with them to put us behind bars. I thought we’ll at least get a roof over our heads and some food. But they turned us away. We spent two nights in a park on near-empty stomachs before an acquaintance took pity on us and gave my wife and kids temporary shelter and food in his house. While they stayed with him, I roughed it out in a nearby park,” said Ishtiaq.

Getting his story across

On their fifth wedding anniversary last Wednesday, Hussain and his wife Zainab borrowed Dh30 from the acquaintance and took a cab to the office of XPRESS in the fervent hope of getting their story across.

The same day a Good Samaritan gave Husain Dh500 which he used to pay as deposit for a small room in a rundown villa in Al Jafliya. But a bigger concern faced him now — how to feed the family? When XPRESS visited them on the afternoon of November 1, the couple said they hadn’t eaten anything for 16 hours. Two tetra packs of milk given by a friend had been saved for their children.

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“We are surviving on handouts. The other day some people gave us some food and money. I don’t know how long it will last us. I have exhausted all my resources and have no one to turn to now. I could have sold my belongings, but they have been confiscated by our former landlord to settle my unpaid rent. The clothes we are wearing is just about all that we have,” said Husain.

Husain says his trouble began when he married a woman outside his religion and country. “I am paying a price for falling in love.”

Before she converted from Sikhism to Islam, Zainab was known as Gurinder Kaur and used to live in Amritsar, India. She came to Dubai in April 2007 to visit her uncle who owned a company where Husain was employed at a Dh1,800 salary.

It was there that the couple met. Zainab recalled: “I often visited my uncle at his office. During one such visit I met Ishtiaq. It was love at first sight. We started dating and decided to get married.

“I left my uncle’s house and started living with a Muslim family where I learnt the tenets of Islam. On October 31, 2007 I officially embraced Islam and married Ishtiaq in a court wedding.”

Husain said when Zainab’s uncle learned the truth he sacked him and put up an absconding notice against him.

“I begged him to lift the absconding notice and release my passport so I could work elsewhere, but he refused to listen or reason. Left with no choice, I started doing freelance contracting jobs to survive. It was tough, of course, yet we managed somehow. But of late all jobs have dried up. I am completely broke now,” he said, holding back tears.

Illegal status

Between 2008 and 2010, the couple had two children — son Haider Ali and daughter Rida Zahra Without passports, their status is illegal. And now the couple has another child due next month. “Under my circumstances we shouldn’t have [had] another child,” he said.

Zainab’s three-month visit visa has also long expired and she has raked up thousands of dirhams in fines for overstaying. Zainab said she also can’t go back to India as her parents have disowned her.

“Could anybody be in a worse situation than us? I have no job, no home, but two kids and a heavily pregnant wife to worry about. I don’t know where our next meal is coming from,” said Husain. “I dread to think what will happen to my family if I am deported for staying illegally,” he added.

Husain claimed the authorities have told him they will consider waiving off their fines if he gets a job offer letter from a company. “It’s my only recourse; I’ve done nothing wrong. I am law-abiding citizen who wants to take care of his family.”


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Editor's note:

Dear Readers,

Thank you for writing to XPRESS and offering to help Ishtiaq Husain and his family. You can get in touch with him directly at 056-7660941

XPRESS TEAM

Comments (122)

  1. Added 17:24 November 8, 2012

    The story is incredible! Is there any possibility these people to get legal status?

    Rosen Saramov, Plovdiv, Bulgaria

  2. Added 17:12 November 8, 2012

    It is really saddening to read all the negative comments here, shows what a heartless world we live in. Now is not the time to talk about what he did right and what he did wrong and religiousity etc, the family need financial help. If seeing a picture of poor young children does not shake your heart, then we have dead hearts. Imagine that happening to us, any of us could be in that situation. We have an opportunity here to help a fellow human being, living in the global world , distances are not a problem anymore, we have the power of the media and the net, lets do whatever little we can. If someone does manage to get in touch with them, then please do update us with their contact details etc. God bless you all!

    Ash, London, United Kingdom

  3. Added 17:01 November 8, 2012

    May ALLAH bless him and all of us please think before you speak and write this bad time can come to any of us so help him by giving food items clothes and other things, MAY ALLAH BLESS ALL OF US. AMEEN

    Asad Iqbal Nayyar, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 16:52 November 8, 2012

    Allah is great .Inshaallah Allah will help them. We should extend our support if possible.

    Sharif, ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 16:52 November 8, 2012

    Lets help the family...... I just spoke to him and I am sending him AED1000/- May Allah Help us All in our tough times. JA

    Javaid Amin, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 16:50 November 8, 2012

    To all the people saying "we do not have pity on him because he is illegal" or pinpointing due to various other reasons - shame on you. It is okay to pinpoint at him just because he is poor and in a horrible condition at the moment? If this happened to a Western family or some other family, no one would have said anything. Please thank god for what you have and don't be arrogant idiots. What god gave you, he can take from you too. You should help this person in need, first and foremost, above all of the things; regardless of his illegal status, his mistake of having a family when he couldn't support them etc. We are humans first. Help for the sake of humanity and unity between different races and people.

    Aisha Yaqub, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 16:44 November 8, 2012

    Allah creates each and every creatures , he is the one feeding food for all creatures.... man can makes dua only to give food for all.... so, he creates us defensibly he will give the right path for them.... really I feel his situations to be relieved soon..... Pray Allah...... for the children....

    Rajmohd, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 16:39 November 8, 2012

    1,800 AED as a salary? Refusing to pay salary and holding passport,if this is not illegal it is inhuman! Every human being has the right to start a family. XPRESS, please suggest how someone can give food and money supplies for these kids.

    Passer, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 16:37 November 8, 2012

    Instead of commenting why don't we try to look for a job for him. As mentioned that the authorities will cancel all his fines if he gets a job offer, all who are reading should try for to arrange a job for him and please for God sake don't judge his situation and blame him if you cannot help or say nice words.

    Usman, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 16:35 November 8, 2012

    THIS IS NOT THE TIME for discussing WHAT HE DID, THIS IS THE TIME to see HOW THEY CAN GET HELP FROM HUMANS I REQUEST TO ALL WHO IS READY TO HELP THEM THE NUMBER IS WRITTEN ON THIS POST GO AND HELP THEM ONLY THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE FACING AND I KNOW IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO EXPLAIN OUR PROBLEMS TO ANY ONE. IF SOME BODY IS SAYING THAT THEY ARE LIVING ILLEGAL FROM 5 YEARS JUST THINK WHY THEY ARE ILLEGAL.WE DONT FORGET ONE THING THAT THEY ARE STILL TOGETHER WE HAVE TO APPRECIATE THEM IF THEY DONT HAVE FOOD FOR THEM SELF BUT THEY ARE STILL SAVING THEY CHILD S . PLEASE TRY TO GIVE THEM A SMOOTH LIFE GOD BLESS YOU ALL

    MURTAZA, DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

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