Libya Indians recount tales of fear and horror

Written by: Pti
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New Delhi, Feb 27 (PTI) Heaving a sigh of relief asthey returned home ''safely'' today, hundreds of Indians fromLibya recounted the ordeal they underwent being confined totheir homes without food ever since anti-Government protestsbegan in the North African nation two weeks back.

With fear still writ large on their faces, they gavean account of the tales of fear, horror and looting tomediapersons at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in thewee hours.

Mohammed Sali, hailing from Kochi in Kerala and whohas been living in Libya for the past 31 years, said manypeople went without food and water for days as the situationturned from bad to worse in Libya, where Muammar Gaddafi isfacing large-scale revolt against his regime.

"Ever since the protests began, people started fearingfor their lives. I along with a few Indians were stuck in acamp for two days and some people looted all our belongingslike laptops and phones," he said.

The engineer said there is "no rule of law" in Libyaever since the uprising began in mid-February and many policestations in capital Tripoli have been burnt down byprotesters.

"We had to face arson and loot by locals," he said andthanked a group of Libyans, who gave him and a few othersshelter.

Karamvir, a carpenter working for a constructioncompany, said he will never go back to Libya even if situationreturns to normal there.

"The situation is very bad. People are looting. Theyare even killing. There is no police. There is no safety," hesaid.

The people also thanked the Indian Government formaking arrangements to bring them back home.

Dr Navbir, who has been living alone in Libya for thepast few years, said she had never felt unsafe in the countrytill the protests broke out.

"Never did I feel that I was in a foreign country.

Even when I was coming to board the flight, people asked menot to go," she said.

Navbir said the Tripoli Airport was a scene of utterchoas as people have to wait for at least 10 hours to get intothe airport.

"There is a long queue to enter the Tripoli airportand it took 15 hours to reach the check-in counter from theairport entrance," she said.

The story of Mobin Qureshi, a resident of Bijnor inUttar Pradesh, is a little different.

"There is no one to help us... All houses were burntdown and we went without food...Situation of Indians,especially who are residing in workers'' camps, is very bad asthe camps have been burnt down and there is no shelter, foodand water," he said.

A total of 528 Indians have so far been brought backto the country by two Air India planes. (More) PTI SMJ RAI ETBSC

Qureshi alleged authorities at Tripoli airport had taken away money, mobile and other valuables from them.

But Sajjan Lal of Hyderabad, who was working in ahospital near Tripoli, praised Libyan leader MoammarGadhafi saying, "he is a nice person."

Some of the Indians employed as worker and labourersalleged that the police there did not provide any security andinstead took away their mobiles, money and other belongings inthe pretext of searches.

The prevailing situation in Libya was a blessing indisguise for a group of workers belonging to Rajasthan''s Sikardistrict as they went to that country on a two-month visaprocured through agents. They did not have a valid workpermit.

"When we approached the Indian embassy they told usthat my visa is not a work visa.. It is just a tourist visavalid for two months," Vikram Singh said.

The workers alleged that the company for which theywere working did not provide any food or medical facilitiesduring the rioting and arson.

They also alleged that one of their fellow members washit by the rioters and sustained head injuries, but was notprovided any medical facilities by the company.

New Delhi, Feb 26 (PTI) Around 291 Indians, evacuatedfrom the trouble-torn Libya, arrived tonight in a special AirIndia flight from Tripoli at the IGI airport here.

The Ministry of External Affairs and DelhiInternational Airport Limited made arrangements for thearriving passengers in the now closed Terminal 2.

"T2 has been set-up by the DIAL within two days andthe terminal will remain operational for next two weeks," asenior MEA official said.

Telephone facilities and railway reservation counters,apart from Balmer-Laurie counter for booking in Air Indiaflight for onward journey, have been set up in the terminal.

Resident Commissioners of 12 states, including Kerala,Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, were present in theterminal to help the people of their states for their onwardjourney.

Apart from these, 15 corporate houses, which havetheir units in Libya, have been asked to help the arrivingIndian nationals, the officials said, adding adequate numberof buses and taxis have been made available.

In order to help the traumatised people, who arecoming back from civil war-like situation, doctors have beenavailable to counsel the evacuees.

"Our mission in Egypt is co-ordinating with ourembassy in Tripoli to ferry the Indian nationals to Egypt fromwhere they can fly out to India from Cairo," Foreign SecretaryNirupama Rao said.

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