New Delhi/Hyderabad: One of the two Indians released by the Islamic State militant group in Libya returned to Hyderabad on Tuesday to an ecstatic welcome from his family. Sources said efforts were on for the release of two other Indians still in captivity of the IS in the coastal city of Sirte. Laxmikant Ramakrishna, who was among the two Indians freed last week, arrived in Hyderabad on Tuesday morning, and got to meet his baby daughter for the first time.
“Safe return from Libya! Laxmikant Ramakrishna received by MEA Branch Sectt Head in Hyderabad & reunited with his family,” tweeted external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup. Ramakrishna, who is from Raichur district in Karnataka, landed in Hyderabad from New Delhi. He told newspersons that the two Indians still in captivity were fine.
Four people teaching at the University of Sirte were abducted by the IS on July 29. While Ramakrishna and Vijay Kumar of Bengaluru were released two days later, Balram and Gopikrishna of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, respectively, are still in IS captivity. Vijay Kumar is to arrive later on Tuesday.
“The boss or sheikh of the captors told me that they will be fine and there is nothing to worry about them,” Ramakrishna told the media. His wife Pratibha Lakshmi and other family members received him at the airport. Pratibha was carrying their daughter Kruthi, whom Ramakrishna saw for the first time and was deeply moved. He also called on the families of the two Telugus in Hyderabad before leaving for Raichur.
Ramakrishna, 37, and the three others were abducted when they were headed for India from Sirte near Libya’s capital Tripoli on July 29. He said he was given a special phone number to call to check on the other Indians from time to time and he has been trying to do that. He also appealed to the media to carry news “with responsibility”, saying any wrong information could harm the abductees.
Ramakrishna thanked the Indian government, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and the Indian embassies in Tripoli and Tunis for their efforts to secure their release. “I am thanking everybody directly or indirectly connected (with the efforts to secure our release),” he said.
India’s efforts for the release of the remaining two Indians were continuing, official sources said on Tuesday. The rescue efforts have got slightly held up due to fighting in Libya between the pro-Gaddafi faction and IS militants, the sources revealed. The Indian government is waiting for the situation to normalise somewhat before going ahead with the rescue mission, it has been learnt.
Libya is in chaos with rival governments fighting each other, while IS militants have gained a toehold in the growing security vacuum. Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thanni on Tuesday said his government has rejected any foreign military intervention on the country’s territory, following reports that European countries were planning to restart military operations in Libya as soon as a unity government was formed.
Libya, a major oil producer, has witnessed political upheaval after Muammar Gaddafi was toppled during the 2011 political turmoil. According to Al-Thanni, Tripoli’s self-proclaimed government was illegitimate and unrecognised internationally. The UN had brokered several rounds of dialogue between opposing parties since September, but clashes still take place in spite of a truce agreed upon by participating factions.