New Delhi: The seven Indians who were released after a month-long captivity in Libya arrived in Delhi on Wednesday morning. The Indians were kidnapped from Asshwerif in Libya on September 14.
The Indian envoy to Tunisia Puneet Roy Kundal played a key role in the entire process to get them released. Infact, while many nationalities have been kidnapped in the past, it is for the first time the release has happened in such a swift manner.
New Delhi does not have a working mission in Libya, given the current situation, the Indian mission in neighbouring Tunisia is dealing with the affairs in the country.
On local front, Principal of Indian International School, Benghazi, Tabassum Mansoor played an important role. Mansoor who has been living in Libya for last 40 years, on the instructions of the Indian envoy Kundal was in constant touch with all the Libyan authorities especially the company manager and other key players on a daily basis.
In fact, in 2011 when civil war erupted in the country, around 3000 stranded Indians were evacuated from Benghazi and Eastern Libya. Again in 2014, she assisted in the repatriation of 289 Indian nationals from Benghazi to Malta.
The negotiations were complex given the fact two parallel governments were involved. India took the help of local tribals to secure the release. New Delhi had thanked the “Libyan authorities and the tribal elders” from the region for “their steadfast cooperation in securing the release of our nationals unharmed”.
The Indian nationals are from Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. They were working at a construction and oil field supplies company and were kidnapped on their way to the Tripoli airport to catch a flight to India.
India in September of 2015 issued a travel advisory for Indian nationals to avoid travelling to Libya in view of the security situation there. Later, in May 2016, the Government imposed a complete travel ban irrespective of the purpose in view of the deteriorating security situation. The travel ban remains in force.