Raghavan and his wife Sarojini along with community members ahead of his departure Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A semi-paralysed Indian man, 80, who claimed to have landed in the UAE in a wooden catamaran 52 years ago, hs been repatriated to his home country with the help of community members.

As reported by Gulf News in May, K. Raghavan, who once ran two tailoring shops in Dubai and a trading company in Ajman, had been unable to fly home due to the fines he had incurred after his business went bust. “I want to live the rest of my life in Kerala. Let my death be there in my motherland,” that was the desperate plea of Raghavan.

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V. P. Sasikumar (left) and Kiran Raveendran hand over the travel documents to K. Raghavan

His wish to fly home came true after community members banded together to take up his case. While residency visa fines worth Dh103,000 were waived in Ajman, compassionate community members and social workers helped settle fines he had incurred after defaulting in licence renewals and rent payments. The total amount of pending fines was brought down from Dh104,000 to Dh59,000 by different entities, following which good Samaritans helped settle them, paving the way for Raghavan to fly home, said V.P. Sasikumar, one of the community members who supported him.

Raghavan, who lived in a cramped room in Dubai’s Jaffiliya area for several months, had earlier said that he had lost everything that he had earned in life by the time he fell sick and was eventually semi-paralysed.

His visa had expired three years earlier and he could not renew it as he had to pay penalties in cases related to non-payment of rent and defaulting licence renewals filed by the Ajman Free Zone.

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How he was helped

After the report about Raghavan came out, the Free Zone authorities helped reduce the fine amount in one case from Dh54,000 to Dh28,000, said Sasikumar. He said another fine of Dh40,000 was reduced to Dh21,000 after social workers conveyed the plight of Raghavan to the concerned. “There was another cheque case for Dh10,000 pending in Sharjah,” said Sasikumar.

He said a group of doctors and a businessman from Kerala, and members of voluntary group UAE Relief Initiative who were contacted by RJ Fazlu, helped settle Dh48,000. Members of the WhatsApp group ‘Change A Life, Save A Life’, helped clear the remaining fines, he said.

While Sasikumar and Kiran Raveendran had been supporting Raghavan for several months, other community members like Shamseer and Shaji Ammannur helped the elderly man with medicines. “Ramesh Payyannur also had helped when he had to be hospitalised once. Through his contacts, he managed to get the bill halved at that time,” said Sasikumar.

The elderly man had been totally dependent on his wife Sarojini, 65, who was brought over on a visit visa by some well-wishers, after he was discharged from the hospital.

Sasikumar said the family and the community were very thankful to the authorities. “With everyone’s support, we managed to send him and his wife back to Kerala finally. He had got a new vigour the moment he realised he was going back home. It gave us immense pleasure to see him with full enthusiasm.”

In a video message shot before his departure, Raghavan thanked everyone who helped him tide over the crisis and fulfilled his wish to be repatriated to his hometown in Kerala’s Kannur district.