Free from captivity in Sudan jungles, Abhilash reaches home

July 31st, 2008 - 5:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Kochi, July 31 (IANS) His mother hugged him tearfully but P.K. Abhilash managed to maintain his composure Thursday when he reached home after 74 days in captivity in the jungles of Sudan. The 27-year-old pipe designer, who was released a week ago, was received at the airport by his friends and family and drove straight to the St Sebastian’s Church near here.

Abhilash, three other Indians and their Sudanese driver had been kidnapped May 13 while they were returning from the Neem oil field to Heglig in Sudan. They were working for Petro Energy, which provides services to the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC).

“They did not treat me badly but there was one person who used to shout at us,” a cool and collected Abhilash, who had been in Sudan for 13 months, told IANS.

After a few days, three of them managed to escape, leaving Abhilash and one more person.

“It was through a satellite phone that I managed to get from a person who came to meet me in captivity that I made a call which set the ball roll rolling for my escape. I called my friend in Doha and told him about my condition,” he said.

Recounting his days in captivity, he said they were given mostly uncooked rice to eat.

“At times they gave us meat which they got when hunting animals. There were also days when we had to go without food. We also got fruits and dates sometimes,” Abhilash said, adding that they slept on mats in plastic tents and also mosquito nets.

“Overall they did us no harm. Anyway it is all over. I have not decided what to do next. But I am going to be here for a while. My company has asked me to return.”

Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi has credited the “team effort” of the governments of India and Sudan, and Abhilash’s employer GNPOC for the release. India’s flagship overseas oil exploration company ONGC Videsh has invested over $1 billion in GNPOC - the largest Indian investment in Africa.

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