For S Vijaykumarâ€™s family, it was the longest 48 hours of their lives. Last Wednesday evening, their worst nightmare came true. They were informed that the 56-year-old teacher was kidnapped allegedly by members of the Islamic State terror group in Libya where he worked. They spent the next two days in fear and uncertainty.
Residents of Koramangala in Bengaluru, they breathed a sigh of relief when they learned he was released on Friday. Sunitha spoke to her husband and was assured that he was safe and was soon to return home.
On Thursday, it was learned that four Indians in Libya - K Balaram, T Gopi Krishna, Vijaykumar and Lakshmikanth - had been kidnapped, allegedly by ISIS. While Vijaykumar and Lakshmikanth of Raichur were released by the group, the other two men from Hyderabad are still in the custody of the group.
How it started
Around 11 pm, R Sunitha received a call from her husbandâ€™s ex-colleague who lives in Hyderabad, informing her of what had happened. A shocked Sunitha frantically called the Indian Embassy in Libya and informed them of what she had heard.
Since the Embassy was closed for the night, Sunitha was told that she had wait until the next morning to speak to officials. Sunitha says that she has not personally contact by officials of the ministry of external affairs; although they had issued a statement that they had rescued two Indian citizens.
According to Sunitha, Vijaykumar had resigned from his post as an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Sirte where he has worked for the last eight years. He wanted to return home. Since travelling alone wasnâ€™t safe, three other Indians who too are associated with the University decided to travel together.
They all met at Vijaykumarâ€™s house and rented a taxi to travel to the Gardabya airport in Libya. En route, they were stopped by a gang whose members enquired about their background, religion, etc., before bundling them off into another vehicle and taking them to an unknown location.
Hemanth Kumar, Vijaykumarâ€™s brother, told TNM, â€śHe told me that when they were taken to an unknown location, one of the gang members identified my brother. He went to his boss and pointed towards Vijaykumar and told him that he was his teacher.â€ť
Sunitha said that Vijaykumar had not been subjected to any torture. â€śThey have immense respect for Indians, more so, if they are teachers. They took care of all of them, gave them food and water whenever needed. Their only condition was that they have to sit in the room all day,â€ť she says.
Sunitha and Hemanth both say that they will not allow Vijaykumar to return to war-torn Libya.
Living with her two sons and her parents in their new house, Sunitha says Vijaykumar last visited them in September 2014. Speaking of her biggest fear, she says, â€śWe were confident that he would come back, but scared about what will happen. There was a lot of uncertainty about when he would return, it could one month or one year.â€ť
Hemanth says the family was extremely concerned about how to inform their father Srinivasulu who had undergone a heart surgery just last month. They were worried that this could affect his health, â€śbut fortunately, he remained strong throughout this period, praying for Vijayâ€™s return,â€ť said Hemanth.
They now look forward to his return.