Two Indians still in IS captivity in Libya

New Delhi/Hyderabad


Anxiety enveloped the families of two Indians who continue to remain in captivity of suspected Islamic State militants in Sirte in Libya a day after their two other Indian colleagues were released. There were no fresh developments, said sources on Saturday.

Even as the Indian government is continuing efforts for the release of the two - Balram Kishan and T. Gopikrishna, Congress leader Manish Tewari sought to know sarcastically if India was "doing business" with terror outfit IS in Libya.

On Friday, two Indians - Lakshmikant and Vijay Kumar - were released by the militants. One belongs to Raichur (Karnataka) and the other to Bengaluru, said officials. On their release, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had tweeted on Friday: "Four Indians abducted in Libya - I am happy we have been able to secure the release of Lakshmikant and Vijay Kumar. Trying for other two."

Indian officials are continuing efforts for the release of the other two men.

Meanwhile Tewari set off a controversy with his tweet. "Happy two Indians released in Sirte LIbya pray for others. Ques- since Sushma Swaraj claiming credit - is India doing business with IS in Libya," posted the former information and broadcasting minister.

"Since foreign minister seems to have direct "hotline" to IS or ISIS in Libya what happened to 57 people from Punjab, are they dead or alive FM," he asked.

The families of Kishan, who hails from Hyderabad, and Gopikrishna, from Andhra Pradesh's Srikakulam district but also living in Hyderabad, are worried about their kin but also hopeful of their release since their two colleagues were freed on Friday.

Sridevi, a member of Kishan's family, received a SMS on Friday from one of those released saying that all are safe, but the relatives are anxious as there has been no further information.

The four Indians, all teachers at University of Sirte, were returning to India via Tripoli and Tunis on July 29 when they were detained at a check point, 50 km from Sirte. Gopikrishna has been teaching computer science at Jufra branch of the university since 2007 whereas Balram has been teaching English at the same university since 2011.

Kalyani, wife of Gopikrishna, said he spoke to her on Wednesday over phone and informed that he is coming home via Tunis. The couple has two children Jhanvi (10) and Eshwar (4).

Balram and Sridevi, a lecturer at a private college in Hyderabad, have two sons Vijaybhaskar (19), a B Tech student at IIT Kharagpur and Madhusudhan (12).

Andhra Pradesh's NRI Affairs Minister Palle Raghunath Reddy said the state government was making efforts with the help of the Indian government and Libya to secure release of Gopikrishna. He said efforts were also being made to contact the officials of Indian embassy in Tripoli.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said on Friday that the Indian mission in Tripoli came to know at 11 p.m. on July 29 that four Indian nationals who were returning to India via Tripoli and Tunis were "detained" at a check point, 50 km from Sirte.

The Indian government had last year issued an advisory asking its citizens to leave Libya.Libya has been hit by continuing violence with various militias and factions battling it out for control since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and killed in 2011.

The kidnapping comes even as the fate of 39 Indians kidnapped in June 2014 from Mosul in Iraq remains unknown. The 39 were kidnapped by the Islamic State militants. The government maintains the men, all labourers from mostly Punjab, are still alive. - IANS