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Malayali expat presumed dead for 45 years, to reunite with family

Kollam: A Malayali expat who was given up as dead by all will be reunited with his family after  45 long years. Sajjad Thangal aged 70, hailing from Shasthamkotta in Kollam Kerala had been believed to be dead in a plane crash.

Thangal used to work as a film distributor in the UAE and he also organized shows and performances of Malayalam actors in the UAE in the 1970s. He was the organizer of a dance show by beauty pageant winner and Malayalam actress Rani Chandra. He was supposed to accompany the team to Madras via Mumbai. But last-minute, he decided not to go with the troupe as he had some work in Dubai. The Indian Airlines plane they were travelling crashed killing all the 95 people on board on October 12, 1976.

Shattered and traumatized by the accident, Thangal stayed in Mumbai and did not go back to UAE. He started doing odd jobs like filling visa forms and passport forms selling food in the street to survive. He had stopped communicating with his family after the plane crash.

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‘I first moved to the UAE from my village in 1971. I worked as a storekeeper and did a few other jobs. I later started organizing Indian cultural events. After the crash, I got a big shock. I was afraid there might be an inquiry against me as I had survived. I did not earn much money in the UAE, so I did not want to go back to my family in such a sorry state,’ said Thangal.

Phillip, the founder of a non-governmental organization called Social and Evangelical Association for Love (SEAL), which rescues street urchins and senior citizens and provides them with food, clothing and shelter at a community center near Panvel has found him from the streets in 2019 and till then he is staying in the Panvel center. A volunteer of SEAL has also traced his house in Kollam and his family.

‘He was in terrible shape, and we had no hope of him becoming normal anytime soon. We brought him to our shelter and gradually he began to improve. He gave up his vices, as he consciously abandoned the road to perdition,’ Philip said

‘On getting his village, Shasthamkotta, address in Kollam, we were surprised to know that his 91-year-old mother Fathima Beevi was there along with his younger brothers and sisters. His father Yunus Kunju, who died in 2012, helped several people in Kerala; so we were praying that his good deeds will help us find our lost son, ‘added Philip.

Two of Sajjad’s brothers will visit him on Monday to take him back home the following day.


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