Thanks to the timely assistance from the Consulate General of India, a six-member expatriate family was able to leave the Kingdom after they got stranded when their passports and other official documents were lost during a farewell Umrah trip to Makkah before returning home for good.
The Indian family from Hyderabad lived nearby Khamis Mushayt in Asir province. Amid the grim job conditions in the Kingdom, the family decided to return home for good.
Before saying goodbye to the Kingdom, the family decided to perform Umrah during which all their belongings including the original residency cards, passports, mobile phones, cash and car registration were either lost or stolen.
After performing the Umrah rites, the exhausted family slept inside the Grand Mosque. Then after a long day's wait at the lost and found office in the Grand Mosque, the family had to return to Khamis Mushayt empty-handed.
Amid the tension they were able to remember only one mobile number and that too in India. They called that number to retrieve a few important numbers belonging to family friends and colleagues.
All the baggage, including children's feed, were left in the car and the key of the car was among the missing items.
Since the car was registered under the employer's name and the family was not in possession of the registration card, it was hard to convince the key makers to make a duplicate key either.
Besides, guiding them to lodge a formal complaint with the police, friends and colleagues arranged the cash enabling the family to return to Khamis Mushayt.
In a humanitarian gesture, the consular section at the Consulate General helped the stranded family by working beyond the normal hours.
Consul Anand Kumar not only facilitated the issuance of new passports to the family on short notice but also helped dispatch them to Khamis Mushayt, said family sources.
After receiving new passports and updating relevant information in the Passport Department, the family received exit visas and left for India on their scheduled departure date thus avoiding any penalties.
“It was tense moments as my iqama was to expire following the day of my scheduled travel. If I had to postpone the travel date, we would have become illegal residents in the Kingdom,” said the Indian engineer who requested his name to be withheld.
Delayed salary payments and the unaffordable dependent fees were the prime reasons for the family's decision to go back home for good but the sudden loss of travel documents put them in a kind of shock, he said.
Hailing the consulate's gesture, he said Indian officials helped him from staggering further financial burden such as the cost of rebooking tickets in the peak season and paying the penalty for the expiration of iqama.
It was coincidence that the incident occurred on Indian Passport Divas (Passport Day), which commemorates the Indian Passport Act, 1967. India's Ministry of External Affairs observes the day every year to dedicate itself to serve the needs of passport applicants.
The Indian Consulate in Jeddah issues an average of 230 passports each day besides numerous miscellaneous services relevant to passports.
It issued a total of 84,068 Passports in 2017 and 49,753 passports until May this year, according to a statement issued by the consulate on eve of the Passport Divas.
With the sustained efforts, the passport issuance time was brought down to three working days, which is prompt compared with the situation prevailing with other missions in general.
SOURCE : SAUDIGAZETTE