On Wednesday morning, at around 11am IST, 40-year-old Mangipudi Sri Lalitha talked to her husband on Facetime for the last time before he was kidnapped in Nigeria along with another Indian colleague.
44-year-old Sai Srinivas, a civil engineer working with Dangote Cement in Gboko in Benue state, Nigeria for the last three years, would call her every morning at 6am local time before he left for work. But on Thursday morning, Sai Srinivas’s call did not come.
“I was continously trying to call him but couldn't reach my husband. I was panicked and worried about my husband. Then I got a call from the Director of the cement company where my husband is currently working. I was shocked to hear the news of my husband's kidnap", Sri Lalitha told The News Minute.
According to the information Lalitha received from the company, Sai Srinivas and his colleague were kidnapped while they were getting into the company cab on Wednesday morning.
"He goes to the office everyday between 7.30am and 8 am (local time). That day, when he was boarding the last cab, some locals attacked the cab and kidnapped my husband and his colleague Anish Sharma. The driver immediately called the officials to inform about the kidnap.”
However, said Lalitha, she was only informed of the kidnapping a day later. “I was not informed the same day because they were worried about me,” she said.
She then rushed to the Commissioner’s Office as well as the Vishakapatnam District Collector’s office. "I filed a complaint against my husband's kidnap and I was assured by the CP and the district collector N Yuvaraj that my husband will return safe.” Following this, the Collector intimated the Indian High Commission and the External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, about the kidnapping via email, she added.
Lalitha said that officials of the Dangote Group have assured her that Sai Srinivas would be brought back safely as soon as possible. “They also told me that whoever had kidnapped my husband had done it for money. They promised to pay the ransom money to rescue my husband.”
Sai Srinivas had earlier worked in Indian cement, textile and pipeline factories in Raipur and in Gujarat. He had moved to Benue State three years ago in search of better opportunities.
His wife Mangipudi Lalitha, their 18-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter are residents of VIP Road in Visakhapatnam.
Sri Lalitha said that although she had heard that Nigeria was not safe for Indians, she had never objected to her husband moving there. “But we also made enquiries before he moved to Benue state, and we heard that it is completely safe, and so my husband shifted there. He also never told me about such incidents in past three years. Only now the company officials told me that other such incidents had happened earlier, where kidnappings were done for money.”
Lalitha added that she is happy that the government has responded promptly to her plea for help. “We also spoke to an officer of the High Commission, K R Reddy, who promised us that my husband will return safe. I am glad about the way the Indian government and Vizag police have reacted on my complaint. I only request the government to take speedy action on this incident. I just want my husband’s safety."
She said that it had been many months since she had seen her husband. “He used to visit us twice in a year. He came in January 2016. He was also planning to visit in June, but due to a heavy workload he couldn't come. I just hope that he is safe and returns to India as soon as possible,” she said.