NEW DELHI/HYDERABAD: Continuous fighting between the Muammer Gaddaffi faction and the IS, which broke out after the dictator’s son was sentenced to death, has delayed the release of two remaining Indians in IS custody. On Tuesday, both the released professors, Mulbagal Vijaykumar and Lakshmikanth Ramakrishna, returned home. Both of them gave assurances to the families of the remaining two — Balaram and Gopikrishna — that they would be treated well and released soon.
Sources said that fighting had started after the sentencing of Saif al-Gaddaffi by a Tripoli court on July 27. It had worsened in the last two days. Sirte, where the professors were living and working, is the birthplace of the Libyan strongman and therefore still has pockets of loyalists.
Due to the fighting, university authorities, who were the main conduit for talks with the abductors, had not been able to persuade the commanders to help with their release, as the latter had changed priorities for the moment.
The two assistant professors from Hyderabad, Balram and Gopikrishna, were abducted in the Islamic State stronghold of Sirte in Libya by none other than their own students. “The captors were our students... Some aged only 13-17. I had even failed some of them in exams but they treated us very well. Their Sheikh (boss) told me the other two will be fine and there is nothing to worry about,” Lakshmikant Ramakrishna, also an assistant professor at the University of Sirte, said on Tuesday.
Lakshmikant, from Karnataka, who was released with his colleague Vijay Kumar, arrived at the Shamshabad airport in the morning.
Lakshmikant said the abductors had given him a SIM card and instructed him to send a message to them after landing in Hyderabad. “I have to convey a message in Arabic but the SIM is not working. I hope international channels will air it,” he said. The 37-year old said some of his former students, who were among the militants, had recognised him and Vijay Kumar and paved the way for their release.
Sreedevi, Balram’s wife, said, “They (militants) told Lakshmikant that they will release the other two also.” Interestingly, Lakshmikant said his abductors had admitted that kidnapping them was a mistake.
Lakshmikant also visited Balram’s family. Gopikrishna’s brother Muralikrishna, who accompanied him, said the militants had blocked tickets. “The abductors treated them with respect and on their release, they accompanied them to Tunis. They even blocked flight tickets,” said Muralikrishna.