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Libya Indians recount tales of fear and horror

Heaving a sigh of relief as they returned home 'safely' on Sunday, hundreds of Indians from Libya recounted the ordeal they underwent being confined to their homes without food ever since anti-Government protests began in the North African nation two weeks back.

india Updated: Feb 27, 2011 12:07 IST

Heaving a sigh of relief as they returned home 'safely' on Sunday, hundreds of Indians from Libya recounted the ordeal they underwent being confined to their homes without food ever since anti-Government protests began in the North African nation two weeks back.

With fear still writ large on their faces, they gave an account of the tales of fear, horror and looting to mediapersons at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in the wee hours.

Mohammed Sali, hailing from Kochi in Kerala and who has been living in Libya for the past 31 years, said many people went without food and water for days as the situation turned from bad to worse in Libya, where Muammar Gaddafi is facing large-scale revolt against his regime.

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

The engineer said that there is "no rule of law" in Libya ever since the uprising began in mid-February and many police stations in capital Tripoli have been burnt down by protesters.

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

Karamvir, a carpenter working for a construction company, said he will never go back to Libya even if situation returns to normal there.

"The situation is very bad. People are looting. They are even killing. There is no police. There is no safety," he said.

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

Dr Navbir, who has been living alone in Libya for the past few years, said she had never felt unsafe in the country till 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 me not to go," she said.

Navbir said that the Tripoli Airport was a scene of utter choas as people have to wait for at least 10 hours to get into the airport.

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

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

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

A total of 528 Indians have so far been brought back to the country by two Air India planes.

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 a hospital near Tripoli, praised Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi saying, "he is a nice person."

Some of the Indians employed as worker and labourers alleged that the police there did not provide any security and instead took away their mobiles, money and other belongings in the pretext of searches.

The prevailing situation in Libya was a blessing in disguise for a group of workers belonging to Rajasthan's Sikar district as they went to that country on a two-month visa procured through agents. They did not have a valid work permit.

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

The workers alleged that the company for which they were working did not provide any food or medical facilities during the rioting and arson.

They also alleged that one of their fellow members was hit by the rioters and sustained head injuries, but was not provided any medical facilities by the company.