NEW DELHI: While two Indian professors have reached the safety of the Indian embassy at Tripoli in Libya, there is a sense that the release of the remaining two Indian teachers could also be imminent.
Laksmikanth and Vijay Kumar were released on Friday by their abductors to the university management. They then left for a 450-km journey to Tripoli and reached the safe environs of the Indian embassy in Tripoli about 9 pm local time. They are expected to leave for Tunisia, where they will catch a flight to reach India by Sunday night. The other two, Gopikrishna Tiruvedula and Balram Kishan from Hyderabad, are still in IS custody. However, MEA sources are “cautiously optimistic” that they will be joining their colleagues soon.
On Friday, MEA said that while the three were working in the University of Sirte, one was employed at the Univeristy’s branch in Jufra district. It is now learnt that the duo who was released were teaching in Sirte, while the other two were teaching in Jufra, which is about 300 km away.
On Tuesday, the four professors were on their way to returning to India via Tunis airport when they were stopped at a checkpoint, about 50 km from Sirte. Incidentally, Sirte is the birthplace of slain Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddaffi.
The Indian embassy in Tripoli was informed around 11 pm that the four had been detained. Since Sirte has been under IS control since May last, it was suspected that they had been abducted by the extremist group. On Friday evening, Vijay Kumar and Lakshmikanth’s release was announced by the MEA. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj confirmed the release of the two professors. “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,” she said.