Family members of two Indians still held hostage in the Islamic State-controlled Libyan city of Sirte were on tenterhooks praying for their safe return home while relatives of two others freed from captivity breathed a sigh of relief at their release on Friday.
The four men were detained at a checkpoint about 50km from Sirte, hometown of former Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi, on Wednesday on their way back to India before they were taken to Sirte city. Two of them – Lakshmikanth from Raichur in Karnataka and Bengaluru resident Vijay Kumar – were released after two days in captivity.
Efforts are on to secure the release of the two others, Hyderabad’s Tiruveedula Gopikrishna and Balaram.
Two of four Indians abducted in Libya released, tweets Sushma
"I hope the other two are also released soon," Lakshmikanth’s sister told HT, adding that she would be relieved only upon seeing her brother return home.
"MEA (ministry of external affairs) officials informed us about the abduction on Wednesday. We have not been able to sleep since then. My father, Srikrishna, was admitted to hospital today because of high blood pressure. We are waiting for the doctor to give us permission to give him the good news."
Vijay Kumar’s brother, Hemanth Kumar, said the family deity had answered their prayers. He received a call from foreign ministry officials that Vijay, who worked as head of the English department at Sirte University, was dropped off at the same spot from where he was abducted.
"All of them were on their way to the airport to make their journey home. My brother is coming home for good," he said.
The families of two men from Hyderabad still held hostage, however, were anxiously awaiting news from the foreign ministry confirming the safety of their loved ones.
Gopikrishna and Balaram, both teachers in Libya, were on their way back to India for a vacation when they were detained. They planned to come via Tunisia and Dubai to Hyderabad by Saturday.
“We were tense as there was no word from Gopikrishna and on Thursday morning we came to know about the abduction after speaking to the embassy in Tripoli. There has been no communication from the MEA since then,” said Gopikrishna’s brother, Muralikrishna.
Gopikrishna’s wife, Kalyani, is praying for her husband’s safe return. Balaram’s wife, Sridevi, said she was desperately waiting to for some news of her husband, who has been teaching English at Sirte University for about five years.
“I spoke to him on Wednesday and he said four of them were planning to take the same flight and could be here on Saturday or Sunday. There was no response yesterday,” Sridevi told reporters. “A phone call from him now is what I am desperately waiting for.”
Later in the evening Balaram's brother Bhagirath told HT that one of the freed men, Lakshmikanth, made a call to Sridevi from Libya.
"He informed that the abductors, who seem to have some demands, assured them the other two would also be released tomorrow (Saturday). We are praying for that to happen now."