Mohammad Bathrudeen with his children Anthony Johnson and Mary Johanna Fernando. Image Credit: Atiq Ur Rehman/Gulf News

Ajman: An Indian man in the UAE is struggling to get Indian citizenship for his two children allegedly abandoned by their Sri Lankan mother.

Mohammad Bathrudeen, an unemployed man who lived with his toddlers Anthony Johnson, 3, and Mary Johanna Fernando, 2, in a labour accommodation in Ajman for almost 10 months, is seeking help to avail of amnesty to return to his hometown in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

However, he is stuck with documentation formalities as his children have Sri Lankan passports and no birth certificates from the UAE authorities.

Bathrudeen said he fell in love with Axisba Isravel Fernando, who used to work with him, and registered their marriage in Sri Lanka in 2014.

He lost his job when the couple’s first child was born, in January 2015. “She (my wife) used to stay with her mother in Bur Dubai. She told me her mother delivered the baby at home,” he claimed.

The couple moved to Ajman and their daughter was born in November 2016. “She was born in Al Qassimi Hospital in Sharjah. I have her vaccination card, but I don’t even have that for my son.”

On August 31, 2017, he said, his wife left for work and did not return. “She took Dh1,800 from my pocket and my salary with the ATM card I had given her to pay the house rent. Her mother had also gone home 10 days before that.”

He claimed that the wife also took their attested marriage certificate. Bathrudeen later got to know that Axisba was in Sri Lanka.

“In March 2017, she emailed me asking for my number again and started chatting with us on WhatsApp. She promised to come back to us and sought money to buy a new visa. I sent her Sri Lankan rupees 300,000 (Dh6,550), after which she blocked me on WhatsApp.”

He said he had no information about his wife until one of her friends told him recently that she is working in Qatar now.

Gulf News could not reach Axisba as her contact was not available.

Life in labour accommodation

While he was struggling to raise the children without their mother, Bathrudeen lost his job again. “I couldn’t pay the rent and finally one of my friends offered me space in his labour accommodation. So, we moved there in November 2017.”

He said it was tough to raise the children in two rooms shared by 15 people. “All three of us had to sleep on a single bed. I had to shift them to the upper deck of the bunk bed, as I was scared would will bite the children at night.”

When the visa amnesty began, he decided to go back home with the kids. However, he couldn’t take the children as they have Sri Lankan passports.

Following this, Bathrudeen surrendered their passports and cancelled their Sri Lankan citizenship. However, he hasn’t been able to get Indian passports for them yet.

When contacted, the Indian Consulate confirmed they had received an application from Bathrudeen.

“We have also received a note from the Sri Lankan Consulate in Dubai that they have surrendered the children’s passports. We are examining the request for Indian citizenship. The main problem is that the children don’t have birth certificates issued by the UAE authorities, which is a mandatory requirement to initiate the process of citizenship. We have guided the father to approach relevant local authorities in this regard,” the mission said, in a statement to Gulf News.

Having known about the plight of the father and children living in a labour accommodation through Media One, a Malayalam TV channel, a group of social workers arranged a room in a shared villa for the trio, and moved them there this week. Salahudheen Haneefa, one of the group, said they were also assisting Bathrudeen with the paperwork to help him fly home without fines during the amnesty.