Tragedy of time: Indian to return home after living in Saudi desert for 23 years

In what can be called as a tragedy of time, an Indian national living in the deserts of Saudi Arabia for the past 23 years, is set to return to his home country after the Saudi government announced a 90-day amnesty period.

The Indian, Gana Prakasam Rajamariyan, 51, came to Saudi Arabia in August 1994 to work as a farm-hand in a remote village in Hail province. He is a resident of Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu.

Gana Prakasam Rajamariyan has spent 23 years in the desert of Saudi Arabia and now is set to return to his home country India.
Gana Prakasam Rajamariyan has spent 23 years in the desert of Saudi Arabia and now is set to return to his home country India. Photo courtesy: iexplore

Narrating his tale of woe, Rajamariyan, said, “I was paid only Saudi Riyal 100 a month for six months by my first employer. I was then transferred to another employer and a third a few months later. Of the three employers, I was not sure which one was my sponsor. Above all, I did not receive any salary from them, so I decided to abscond and live illegally out of compulsion.”

The old man has spent 23 years in the desert, without going home once, a Saudi Gazette report said. He said his destiny was in the desert where he spent half of his life.

He said, “My four daughters were very young when I left home. Now when I return, I have grandchildren of the same age.”

Rajamariyan said he was able to marry off three of his four daughters with his earnings in Saudi Arabia. He said he did not own a house nor did he have an Aadhaar card or a voter ID, all of which were introduced after he left the country.

He made his last phone call to his wife, Ronikyam, before she was admitted to hospital in 2015. After that he did not call her as she was not able to speak and died a year later.

It was all due to the efforts of local social worker Sarfuddin Thayyil that Rajamariyan has completed all formalities for his return to India. He hopes to leave Saudi Arabia soon.

Gana Prakasam Rajamariyan hails from Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu in India.
Gana Prakasam Rajamariyan hails from Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu in India. Photo courtesy: Wikipedia

There are thousands of Indian workers stranded in Saudi Arabia after travelling there illegally or overstaying their visas. They are ready to return to India under a 90-day amnesty period that the Saudi government has offered them.

The General Directorate of Passports (GDP) of Saudi Arabia had made the announcement, “By approaching the passport departments to solve their status from March 29, illegal workers will be exempt from the consequences associated with the deportee fingerprint system and will be able to return to the Kingdom on the condition of pursuing legal methods to gain entry.”

The Indian Embassy in Riyadh and the Consulate General in Jeddah received a total of 26,713 applications for emergency travel passes and issued 25,894 since the general amnesty was announced 56 days ago.

People from Uttar Pradesh formed the majority with 11,390 applicants while Telangana had 2,733 applicants, West Bengal 2,332, Tamil Nadu 2,022, Kerala 1,736, Bihar 1,491, Andhra Pradesh 1,120 and Rajasthan 853.

Author
Ashraf Jamal
Ashraf Jamal – Senior Writer

Ashraf Jamal brings a rare depth to writing equipped with a degree in journalism, a postgraduate degree in political science, and a degree in law from the Allahabad University. His experience includes editing and publishing the Northern India Patrika and writing for Times of India for almost a decade covering just about any topic under the sun including NRIs and Indian diaspora.

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