Raju’s brother who went missing one fine day in Abu Dhabi is among 99 Indians who have vanished without a trace between 2010 and 2012
Raju Tiwari has not had a peaceful night’s sleep ever since his brother vanished in 2011.
Nineteen-year-old Pancham Tiwari, youngest of five brothers from a poor family in Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh, India, had come to the UAE in 2010 to work as a carpenter for a construction company in Mussaffah, Abu Dhabi,
Then one fine day he disappeared without a trace.
Over the past two years, Raju has moved heaven and earth to find Pancham, but he still remains missing. “I last saw him before I went to India for my annual leave. We lost touch with him when I was in India. Now it is almost two years and I am still looking for leads.”
Raju said he had approached the company where his brother worked and also filed a missing person report with the Indian Embassy in 2011.
“We want to know what happened to him. My mother is old. She keeps asking me about her younger son whenever I call. I want a closure at least for my mother’s sake who is living in the hope that her son will return one day,” saidRaju
Like Pancham there are dozens of Indians who remain untraced in foreign countries. According to figures given out by the Indian government, as many as 99 Indians went missing between 2010 and 2012 in the UAE
Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi told Indian parliament last week that around 432 Indian citizens have gone missing in different countries including the UAE, Australia, the US, Britain, Malaysia, Italy and Canada. While 291 have been traced, 141 still remain untraced.
The ministry has compiled data after obtaining reports from 90 Indian missions.
Indian officials in the UAE said efforts are on to trace missing people through their employers.
However, they maintained the real numbers of missing Indians will be significantly lesser than what the minister quoted. “In many cases, the families do not let us know when they get a closure on the case.
“The missing complaint they file with us thus remains on our record,” said Sanjay Verma, Indian Consul General.
According to him, relatives or friends contact the mission when they do not hear from their family members who are residing in the UAE. “There are cases when the expatriates cut off all contacts with their families back home due to marital pressures or financial problems. Their families get desperate,” said Verma.
An official at the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi recalled how they faced a situation arising from such circumstances. “Around two months ago we received a ‘missing’ report filed by a Keralite family. The case was referred to us by the Ministry of External Affairs in India. When I called the family a week ago as a routine follow-up, they casually told me that the missing person is back home.”
Adding up to the ‘missing’ statistics are accident victims and those who go break all contacts with their families because they are in jail.
“When they end up in jail, many people chose not to inform their families to avoid shame and social stigma. When that happens, their families back home panic and report them missing,” said K. Kumar, Convener of Indian Community Welfare Committee, an umbrella organisation under the Indian Consulate.
Kumar said India should publish a list of missing Indians so that organisations like his can work on a case by case basis and help verify their authenticity.