Bhopal: A man has been quietly helping Indian citizens caught in difficult circumstances in countries across the world for years.
Known for lending a helping hand to any family whose kin is trapped far away, he uses all his links and puts energy into the efforts to bring the person back home.
Syed Abid Hussain has mastered the skill to deal with the bureaucracy in different countries and with the use of social media, reunites such people with their families.
By profession, Abid is neither a bureaucrat nor a politician, who has contacts and departments to follow their instructions but he is just a painter and single man army.
And even not being associated with any government organisation, he has so far helped hundreds of people stuck in countries spread over the Middle East, West Asia, Europe and other parts of the world. Abid keeps getting calls and messages from families who have their kin caught in a country and even those whose whereabouts are not known.
The ‘Mesiah’ has developed a style of his own to resolve these cases. Whether it’s the case of a person who is untraceable or has been kept unlawfully by someone in a foreign land, Abid uses social media, particularly Twitter, to bring focus on the disappearance of the person or his plight. He tags officials of the particular country, their embassies and the Indian Embassy.
He also messages prominent personalities of the particular country, including peaceniks or activists, film actors, journalists and urges them to raise the issue. Subsequently, it comes in media in those countries, gets attention and opens the door to the person’s return.
During the Russia and Ukraine crisis, he helped dozens of youth to return with his efforts.
“I don’t have a strong financial background but I never take a penny for this work. It’s just for the sake of humanity and social work”, he says.
The number of people Abid helped bring back to the country is uncounted now. “I don’t do it for any number or statistics, I stopped counting, the figure is more than 500,” he says. “Whenever I get a call I start working on the mission. I feel that the victim’s family must not get depressed and lose hope”, he adds. One of the first cases that brought him nationwide attention was when he helped the family of a missing boy, Kailash Arjunwar.
“I found through a newspaper report about Kailash, who is from Madhya Pradesh that he had somehow overstayed on the other side of the border and was caught, and kept in jail. I began my efforts. After a long process, Kailash was rescued with the help of the foreign ministry. I constantly kept raising his issue until it got resolved”, he recalled.
Recently, Abid helped get 12 people from a country in West Asia to return to India. These people, Harendra Ram, hails from Siwan (Bihar), Jai Soorat (Ghazipur), Dharmendra Kumar (Deoria), Sheetal Singh (Kapurthala), Husan Lal (Jalandhar), Surendra Verma (Sant Kabir Nagar), Ved Prakash (Kushinagar), Hardas Prakash (Ghazipur) and Shiv Locahn of Mau along with others were reunited with their families.
From yet another country, he helped bring 48 persons back to India, in January.
A painter by profession, he was born in Faizabad, UP.
Abid, 38, says that when he started helping people stuck in foreign lands, he came to know about a lot of factors, especially how some people who are less educated are fooled by their employers or agents who take them to those countries but they end up working as bonded labourers sometimes & are even not allowed to contact families.
When Abid comes to know about a family that has a person ‘lost’ in a country, he takes documents and contacts the government, foreign ministry, the particular country’s consulate and embassies in both countries. Mostly he manages to get them returned. Former Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj also used to know him for his efforts.
Sandeep Kumar, who was helped rescued by Abid recalls, “Our company had promised a job in the construction sector. After paying money to the agent, we were cheated.” “Our families told Abid bhai, who started the campaign because we couldn’t do anything. He also ran a hashtag to save us and this led to action (return),” says Sandeep, who is thankful to the activist for his role.
In the case of Babar Ali, who was stuck in Mozambique, the family approached Abid. “Babar was promised a big salary but when he reached there, he was not paid and made to work 18 hrs daily apart from harassment and torture”, said his family members. “He made a video and managed to send it. Then Abid took up the case and the Embassy acted, bringing Babar back”, a family member mentioned.
Abid has been felicitated many times and got awards too for his work.
Abid has been affectionately called ‘Bajrangi Bhaijan’ because of the movie and the similarity of his work with the Salman Khan starrer Bollywood flick.