Mohammed Shaikh, the 23-year-old kidnapped in Sudan, would rather have been anywhere else in the world. After 18 days in captivity and six days on the run, he finally returned to his father in Mumbai on Friday — with a remarkable tale of trauma and survival, and considerable bitterness for a government he says did nothing to protect him abroad and little to rescue him after he was kidnapped.
He also offered chilling details about his fellow abductees.
While it was known that Surjeet Singh escaped the day after Shaikh, the latter told a stunned gathering of reporters that he had been shot in both knees by tribals. “He is recuperating in a hospital in Sudan,” he added.
Shaikh also revealed that another fellow abductee, Biplav Bishwas, had escaped with him. “Bishwas got lost and I have no clue where he is,” he said.
Shaikh was on his way home from work with three of his colleagues on May 30 when heavily armed militants leapt on to the road and kidnapped the four Indians and their driver. For the first two days, the men were not fed or even given water. They lived in the open, sheltered only by the thick foliage of the Sudanese forest.
Shaikh added that the Indian government did nothing to protect the men in Sudan. “Chinese employees have Chinese military forces with them because the area is so unsafe,” he said. “But when we asked our embassy for security, they said we needn’t worry as we were not at risk. Did they not know there had been seven other kidnappings on the same stretch of road?”
Not surprisingly, Shaikh said he wouldn’t leave the country again in search of work. “But I wouldn’t mind going back to Sudan for a visit,” he said. His father Kamar looked on in wonder, saying: “I can’t believe he’s back in one piece.”