It was a joy that words couldn’t express. Jose Adakkapadan Devassy, a 58-year-old Indian repatriated earlier this month, struggled for words as he thanked personnel at the General Directorate of Nationality,Passport and Residence (GDNPR) for helping him return home.
Devassy lived in Bahrain for over 28 years, spending more than 26 years as an illegal following the death of his sponsor.
Returning home he got a welcome similar to the Biblical prodigal son, hosted by his sister who distributed sweets in the village church and held a festive lunch at her house.
Devassy told the Bahrain Tribune that all this would not have been possible without the help extended to him by GDNPR officials, including Captain Talal Nabeel Taqi and Yousif Abdulla Ali.
He also thanked Clifford Correia of Migrant Workers Protection Society, who accompanied Devassy and helped him wade through all legal procedures so as to return to India.
Devassy would have left Bahrain in 2008, but was held back because he did not have the documents to prove that he was an Indian. Correia had to contact the man’s sister who with the help of NORKA (Non-resident Keralite Affairs Department) acquired and sent the required documents. Correia began helping Devassy about three years ago during the first amnesty initiated before the Labour Market Regulatory Authority was officially launched.
A series of delays and trips to different authorities finally led to Devassy leaving Bahrain on Saturday.
He was unable to avail of the ongoing Easy Exit scheme and had to pay a fine of BD295 to leave the Kingdom. “His paperwork was submitted before the scheme began and hence could not avail of the Easy Exit scheme,” Correia explained.
Asked how he came to Bahrain and became an illegal resident, Devassy said, “I came here at the age of 30. I was working as a salesman in a toy shop in Manama. I was then moved to different shops by my employer. He was not in the best of health and often went to India for treatment.”
The employer died of illness and left behind two wives and their small children. But to Devassy’s misfortune they did not know where his sponsor had kept the passport. “At that time, I was not aware of the Indian Embassy. I did not know whom to approach to get help to leave the Kingdom,” Devassy said.
Forced by circumstances, he began doing odd jobs to eke out a living. He was in constant touch with his sister and sent her money whenever possible, but had given up hope of returning to India. “I was under the impression that after I lost my passport I could not travel again,” he explained.In those days working for other sponsors was more the norm than an exception as finding jobs was not difficult,
Devassy said. “I used to work at different places and even learnt how to paint homes.” It was only in 2007 that he got a shock when for the first time in over two decades, an employer refused to pay him wages after getting him to do work. “He said I was working illegally and as an employer, he should not support me by paying for the work done.
He also told me that I would be locked up if I complained against him,” Devassy said. He checked with his colleagues and was told that he was illegal and could be arrested. “But the good news was that there was now a chance for me to return home even without a passport,” Devassy added. He approached the Indian Embassy for help. Owing to the complexity of his case, several other illegal residents advised him to contact Correia. “After that my life was in his hands.
I moved to Zallaq to avoid being caught by the authorities and Correia used to pick me up from my home and take me to the immigration office to work on the necessary procedures. The officers were kind and did all they could within the legal parameters to help me,” Devassy said. The 58-year-old is still a bachelor and has no plans to marry.
“I will help my sister to take care of her children and home,” he said.
Expatriates needing help can contact Correia at 39876070.