Thazhathethil Kunhahammed when he came in to Gulf News to share his story Image Credit: Anjana Kumar/Gulf News

An Indian who was stuck in the UAE for 15 years due to several legal cases in his name, finally left for home on Tuesday, after availing UAE’s amnesty programme which ends on December 31.

Thazhathethil Kunhahammed, 59, who hails from Kannur district in Kerala, could not contain his tears of joy while speaking to Gulf News on Monday (December 24) on being able to finally meet his wife, three daughters and five grand-children after 15 years.

Kunhahammed who first came to the UAE 33 years ago left India on June 6, 2004. “I had completed a month-long vacation and returned to Sharjah.”

He will celebrate his 60th birthday on January 3 with his family in India and he says he never imagined this could have been possible six months ago.

“I am thankful to the UAE government and the Indian Consulate in Dubai for arranging my out pass. I have to thank my lawyer who helped clear all my financial dues in the country just so I could avail the amnesty. It was sad saying good-bye to my friends who supported me during my struggles in the UAE. But I am happy that I am finally going home to my family,” he said.

Kunhahammed first came to the UAE in 1985 as a cook. He worked for a local family in Ras Al Khaimah for 12 years before starting his own carpentry business in 1997. Things were going well for him until 2005. He took over a sick company and in 2008 when the global financial crisis happened, Kunhahammed incurred a huge loss in his business.

“Several people owed me money and my business went bust. I had an outstanding loan of around Dh208,000 and a credit card outstanding of Dh155,000 with two private banks in the UAE. As a result, I had several legal cases on me.”

Thazhathethil Kunhahammed and his son, as he shows his amnesty exit pass Image Credit: Anjana Kumar/Gulf News

Subsequently, his residence visa expired in 2009 and his passport a year later. He was living in the UAE illegally since that time. Worse he had to contend with legal cases in his name.

Kunhahammed’s son, Nizar works in Fujairah. But he was desperate to connect with the rest of his family and so Kunhahammed approached UAE-based lawyer, Salam Pappinnisseri of Ali Ibrahim Advocates and Legal Consultants in September when the amnesty programme had just been launched.

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Pappinnisseri said his team of lawyers helped clear Kunhahammed‘s legal cases lodged in Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman courts.

“We approached the Indian Consulate in Dubai after these cases were cleared and they were very efficient in issuing an Emergency certificate, similar to a passport so could exit the country. This was issued within 20 hours of us approaching the consulate for help,” said Pappinnisseri.

On Tuesday morning Kunhahammed took an Air India flight from Sharjah to Calicut. He was greeted by his family upon his arrival.

His son Nizar said: “The past 15 years has been particularly difficult for my mother. She single-handedly brought up my sisters and me. She got us married and was around when her grand-children were born. A lot has happened when my father was away, but I am so happy that he is finally home now.”