“Below is an extract from Rejimon Kuttappan’s new book ’Undocumented: Stories of Indian Migrants in the Arab Gulf’ (Penguin Random House India, 2021). Kuttappan is a migrant rights researcher and journalist, who also contributes to Equal Times. In this book, he explores the lives of Indian migrants in the Gulf region, asking questions surrounding human rights, exploitation, marginalisation and trafficking. This edited excerpt contains the first-person testimony of Majeed, an undocumented Indian migrant worker from Kerala who got stranded in Oman in 2011. As he had no documents or money and as there was no amnesty for migrant workers in Oman at the time, Majeed decided to make the perilous crossing to the United Arab Emirates by foot with the help of Pakistani and Bangladeshi traffickers, where Majeed planned to ask the Indian embassy to send him back home.
“You know that we tried our best to fly out of Oman with whatever papers we had, right? But it didn’t happen. So, I agreed to crossing the border. One by one, all the others said yes as well. Rabiul and Shariful told us that we should start walking by 10pm. Rabiul told us that it would be a six-hour walk through the mountains. We were eight, with the Pakistanis, including the driver, who was also the guide, and myself.
It was not very dark because of the moonlight. As we were walking through a valley, one of the men told me that there would be snakes and wild dogs. Another one told me that we may have to walk for three hours continuously through the valley, and then climb the mountain and continue for three more hours more hours. At that point, I was doubtful whether we would make it…”