DUBAI — The plight of illegal migrant workers in the Emirates, especially from the south Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, has once again been brought into the limelight after the family of an illegal worker who died in Dubai recently, appealed to the authorities here not to repatriate his body.
The reason: To avoid the confiscation of their house back home by loan sharks who had allegedly given large loans to defray the deceased's visa charges to some recruiting agent. The plight of poor expatriates arriving in the UAE after mortgaging their small properties and taking huge loans back home to pay for the visa fees, has been reported several times earlier. Often, they encounter nothing but additional misery at the end of their journey to the City of Gold.
Selvaraj, a relative of 36-year old Kannan Gopal from Annamangalam in Tamil Nadu, who died from tuberculosis in Rashid Hospital on March 6, said Gopal's family had pleaded to him and several social workers not to repatriate the body. They are afraid the local money lenders will confisticate their house if they learn that Gopal had died in Dubai.
"Although, his parents, wife and children did want to see Gopal one last time to pay their respects, they were forced to make this sacrifice for the fear of merciless money lenders. So, instead, they asked us to cremate the body here in Dubai," said Selvaraj, which was done at the Sonapur Cemetery on March 28.
"Kannan Gopal, who had been working as a carpenter in Dubai since 1999, could never save enough money to pay back his loans. He barely managed to pay the high interest charges on his loans," added Selvaraj.
Meanwhile, volunteers of The Valley of Love, a charity organisation, coordinated all the arrangements for Gopal's cremation ceremony.
The organisation also cremated the body of another illegal worker, Narella Rajaiah, hailing from Karim Nagar, Andhra Pradesh, who died at Rashid hospital after suffering from tuberculosis.
Incidentally, there are many such illegal workers in the emirates who live with the daily dread of meeting a similar fate as Gopal's.