Jai Singh (in white) and his brother Bhagat at their home after the reunion. Pic/ Sameer Markande
Sixty-seven-year-old Jai Singh's life is straight out of a Bollywood movie. The Mira Road East resident, who had gone to Dubai at the age of 36 in 1986 for a job, returned home to his family only last night, 31 years later. Singh had lost his job and his passport in the Gulf country and with it his memory, gradually, and was even jailed in a case. Rescued by the Consulate General of India in Dubai, it took the authorities two months to put the pieces together, after learning about him, to track down his family. That's because Singh only knew Marathi and a smattering of Arabic.
His 69-year-old brother Bhagat waited for 12 hours at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport last night to receive him. And Jai's 28-year-old nephew laid eyes on his uncle for the very first time.
Over a smoke and tears
Sitting with his brother outside their house this morning, over a shared cigarette and some tears, Jai recounted how he had given up on seeing his family again.
"One day, there was a fight between some local goons, and someone complained against me. The police came to my room at midnight and picked me up. They kept me in jail for two years and six months. I lost all my contacts and couldn't get in touch with my brother. He thought that I died," said Jai.
A resident of UP and Jai's fellow inmate in the jail came to his rescue. After his release, he went to Mira Road to Bhagat's house to inform him about Jai's condition and gave him the phone and fax numbers of the prison.
"I was very ill in jail. They didn't harass me, but my health deteriorated, my memory weakened. I couldn't remember where my family was and how to get in touch with them. Seeing my condition, the person from UP agreed to find my brother after his discharge. Even though by the time he managed to meet Bhagat, the embassy had already established contact with my family, I will never forget him; he saved me and made my last wish come true," said Jai.
Jai used to call home regularly until he got arrested. When his calls stopped, Bhagat filed a police complaint and also wrote to the embassy. But it was only after two years that embassy officials visited their home in search of Jai.
Bhagat said, "They asked me for his ID proof, but I didn't have any documents. This delayed the process, but they promised me that they would bring my brother home."
"My son got a call from the consulate on Tuesday morning that Jai would reach Mumbai on the same day, but they didn't give a time. So I reached airport in the morning itself. It took a long time and I refused to get my hopes up, until I saw him. Then, I couldn't believe my eyes," he added.
A teary-eyed Jai said, "When I was in jail, I used to cry for home, for my family every night. I am thankful to the consulate for helping me. I can now die in peace."
Jai Singh (right had an emotional reunion with his brother, Bhagat, last night. Pic/ Sameer Markande
Employee to illegal alien
Singh went to Dubai in 1986 on a work visa, but shortly after, he lost his job. He then started his own business, but he suffered losses, after which, he started working as a daily-wage labourer and a paperboy.
Jai said he was unable to return home because the company that had hired him confiscated his passport. Embassy officials, however, said that he lost it in moving from place to place for work.
"He was living like a nomad there, moving from one location to another in search of work," said Rajesh Ranjan, vice-consul, Consulate General of India, Dubai.
"After his arrest, his memory weakened; he couldn't recall where his family was and how to contact them."
When the jail authorities got to know his story, they contacted the consulate. It took authorities almost two months to connect the dots and trace his family in Naya Nagar.
As Jai Singh only knew Marathi and broken Arabic, an employee with the consulate who knew Marathi communicated with him to extract as much information as possible. The officers circulated his photograph and the information to all departments, which finally led to contact being established with his nephew, an autorickshaw driver.
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