Talks still on for kidnapped Indians’ release in Sudan

May 30th, 2008 - 5:45 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) Over a fortnight since four Indians were kidnapped in Sudan, India’s ambassador in Khartoum Friday said he was hopeful that they would be released soon as Sudanese authorities had intensified their negotiations with the kidnappers. “Negotiations are still going on for their release. We hope the matter will be resolved soon,” India’s ambassador to Sudan Deepak Vohra told IANS by phone from Khartoum.

On May 13, four Indians working for Petro Energy, which provides services to the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC), were kidnapped while they were returning from the Neem oil field to Heglig in Sudan.

They have been identified as P.K. Abhilash (Kerala), Mohammed Aseeb Shaik (Gorakhpur), Biplab Biswas (Kolkata) and Surjit Singh (Amritsar). The company employs 75 Indians in Sudan.

Official sources said tribal leaders have been roped in for the negotiations between Sudanese authorities and the kidnappers. Sudanese security forces have also surrounded the village where the Indians are being held captive.

When asked if the Indians are likely to be released within a week, an official of the Sudanese embassy here said: “It’s a matter of time. We are trying our best to get them freed. They are safe and secure. Don’t worry, they will be released very soon.”

The relatives of the kidnapped Indians are, however, acutely worried and have been speaking to the media and petitioning the government to press for their release.

TV reports Friday showed the distraught mother of Biplap Biswas, one of the kidnapped Indians, asking whoever will care to listen about her son’s release.

“They keep saying he will be freed today or tomorrow. Now 16 days have gone by and there is no news of my son,” she said.

The external affairs ministry is closely monitoring developments and is in constant touch with its mission in Khartoum. The ministry summoned the Sudanese envoy to India May 21, and he assured the officials that Sudanese authorities have intensified efforts to secure the kidnapped Indians’ release.

India’s flagship overseas oil exploration company, the ONGC Videsh, has invested over $1 billion in the GNPOC - the largest Indian investment in Africa.

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