Four Indian nationals were kidnapped by a group demanding better infrastructure for the oilfield area in Sudan, India's Ambassador to Sudan Deepak Vohra confirmed to the Hindustan Times on Thursday.
The four, P.K. Abhilash, Mohd Naseeb Shaikh, Biplab Biswas and Surjeet Singh, were on their way back late Tuesday from an assignment to their base camp near Heglig in southern Sudan, where the OVL (ONGC Videsh Ltd) has its oilfields. They are, however, not employees of OVL, Vohra said.
The men work for a company owned by an Indian, Petro Energy Contracting Services, registered in Khartoum. The company has 75 Indian and 50 Sudanese employees and provides construction services to the oil sector in Sudan.
Vohra told the Hindustan Times that the abductors had been identified and he was hopeful they would be released soon. He has been denied permission to visit the area as it would “exacerbate the problem”, but Vohra said he would be going to Heglig “soon” to ensure the release of the four men.
“We know where the victims are,” Vohra said, declining to give details as the lives of the victims could be endangered. “Negotiations for their release are ongoing. I expect good results soon. They are unharmed and being well treated,” he said when the Hindustan Times contacted him in Khartoum.
Asked who the kidnappers were, Vohra said they were not related to rebels from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) from Darfur that attacked the Sudanese capital Khartoum over the weekend. The locals who kidnapped them apparently did not
know that they were Indians,” Vohra said.
“They were taken while returning to their base camp from an assignment in another oil field. The abductors have taken other hostages earlier. Their usual demand is better development for their area that produces the oil,” Vohra said.