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M. Mathews dies aged 81 – Rescued Indians during Iraq invasion

Mathews

KUWAIT CITY, May 21: A wellknown Indian national Matthunny Mathews, popularly known as “Toyota Sunny”, passed away at the age of 81 in Kuwait on Saturday evening following a long period of illness. He is known for his distinguished role in helping thousands of Indians repatriate from Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion in 1990.

According to sources from Kuwait Town Malayalee Christian Congregation (KTMCC), his body will be placed at the Parish Hall in the National Evangelical Church of Kuwait at 11:00 am on Wednesday, May 24 for people to pay their final respects. On the same day, the body will be flown to Cochin via a Kuwait Airways flight.

The funeral service is scheduled to be held on Friday afternoon at Elim Indian Pentecostal Church in Kumbanad, India. He is survived by wife Mary Mathews, and children James, Annie and Susan. According to a report published in the Hindustan Times, the late Mathews came to Kuwait in 1956 at the age of 20 and he joined Toyota Company as a typist.

From that position, he rose to eventually become its Managing Director and retired in 1989. A prominent Indian daily Manorama reported that Mathews was the chairman of Jabriya Indian School and one of the main founders of Indian Arts Circle in Kuwait.

He was also the chairman of the Indian Business Council and played a major role in the constitution of KTMCC.

Following his retirement from Toyota Company in 1989, Mathews established a car-rental company, Safeena Car Rentals, and a general trading company, Safeena General Trading Company, in 1990. The Bollywood movie “Airlift” was based on the role played by Mathews during the Iraqi invasion in repatriating members of the Indian community in Kuwait.

During that time, when the state authorities expressed helplessness in supporting the Indian expatriates who were stranded in Kuwait, Mathews came to their rescue and had helped them return to India safely through constant communication with the United Nations and the Central Government of India. In 1990, the Indian government carried out the biggest evacuation operation ever by ensuring the safe return of large number of stranded Indian nationals.

At that time, Mathews acted as the unofficial representative of the Central Government of India to coordinate the evacuation process. The news of the death of “Toyota Sunny” came as a shock to many Indian expatriates in Kuwait, particularly those who have been in Kuwait for many years. They affirmed that his brave deeds and selfless acts will be etched in their minds and in the history of Indian presence in the State of Kuwait.

By Simi Krishnan Kutty Arab Times Staff

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