Family members, relatives, friends and co-villagers accorded emotional reception to Ravinder Gulia, who is among the six Indian sailors, including two from Haryana and one each from Himachal Pradesh (HP), Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), held hostage in the gulf of Aden since August 1 last when MV Suez, the cargo ship of a private firm Red Sea Navigation, was hijacked- for over ten months by Somali pirates and released recently, returned to his native village Laadpur in Jhajjar district on Friday.
Accompanied by wife Sampa Arya, three-year-old son and close friends, Ravinder Gulia was received at the village outskirts with people garlanding him with flowers and children dancing to the tunes of beating of drums. From there he was taken to the village chaupal in a procession routed through various temples and other religious places where Ravinder Gulia paid obeisance.
Co-villagers, especially women, came out of their houses to greet Ravinder when the procession passed through the village streets in the afternoon. In the chaupal, Ravinder and members of his family and relatives, including his father Rajender and father-in-law Satpal Arya expressed gratitude to the people of the area, especially the Khaaps, and other well wishers for supporting the efforts to get him and other hostages freed from the clutches of the Somali pirates who had been holding them hostage.
Ravinder Gulia's mother Angoori Devi with tears of big relief in her eyes said, "Aaj mere bete kaa punarjanm hua hai. Maine pichhle dus-gyaraha mahine bahut dukh uthaye.
Bhagwan ne hamari prarthna sun lee aur mera beta aaj phir se mere paas hai". Villagers had all praise for the efforts made by Ravinder Gulia's wife Sampa Arya for the release of her husband and other hostages. An elderly villager said, "The entire credit for the safe return of Ravinder goes to his wife, who leave no stone unturned to get him freed".
Ravinder Gulia later reached his Srinagar colony residence here in the evening where other family members, neighbourers, relatives, friends and other well wishers were waiting for him. Responding to questions by media persons, Ravinder Gulia said that the hostages were ill treated by the pirates whose unpredictable behaviour always created fear among the hostages. "Hame sirf itna khana diya jata tha ki ham jinda rahen', he said while sharing the tortuous experiences during the period of captivity.
Stating that he would not go again to join his job on the ship, Gulia said, "Ab to yahin par koi doosra kaam dekhunga". Ravinder's wife Sampa Arya, interacting with media persons, said that Pankistan’s human rights activist Ansar Burney had negotiated the release of hostages. Mincing no words, she went all out and had a harsh outburst against the Indian government alleging that it did nothing for getting the hostages freed from the captivity of Somali pirates, who had taken over the ship owned by an Egyptian company, Red C. Navigation back in August 2010, taking its crew as hostage.
Praising the Pakistan government, she said, " Pakistan government played an important role in getting the hostages freed". Taking to task the Indian politicians, Sampa said, "Bharat sarkar aur rajnetaon ne kuchh nahin kiya apne nagrikon ko bandhakon se mukt karvane ke liye."