Talks for the release of two university teachers from Hyderabad kidnapped by Islamic State in Libya last week have not yielded any results so far but Indian officials are hoping they may be released soon.
While T. Gopi Krishna and Ch. Balram Kishan from Hyderabad are still being held hostage by masked gunmen in an unknown location, Laxmikant and Vijay Kumar, both hailing from Karnataka state, were released Friday.
The Indian Embassy in Tripoli and some sources in the University of Sirte are engaged in talks with the kidnappers some of whom are said to be former students of the university led astray by extremist views.
Sirte University officials spoke to professor Balram Kishan’s wife Sridevi Sunday about their ongoing talks with the abductors without elaborating.
A Hindustan Times report said Kumar and Laxmikant were released from captivity only because some of their abductors held teachers in high esteem.
Sridevi is planning to meet external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj inDelhi.
In a tweet soon after their release, India’s foreign minister Sushma said: “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.”
The tweet made Congress leader Manish Tewari wonder whether India was “doing business” with terror outfit Islamic State (IS) in Libya.
“Happy two Indians released in Sirte Libya pray for others. Ques- since (Foreign Minister) Sushma Swaraj claiming credit – is India doing business with IS in Libya,” tweeted Congress leader Manish Tewari.
“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 in another tweet.
Vijaylakshmi, whose brother Lakshmikanth was freed Friday, thanked the government for securing his release. “I hope the other two (still in the custody of abductors) will be released soon,”she said.
The four lecturers have been teaching at the University of Sirte since 2014.
Although the university has remained closed after Sirte fell to IS, the four teachers stayed on hoping it will reopen. When there was no sign of it after a long wait, they decided to return to India via Tunis some 500 km away.
Uday Itagi, an English teacher of Sebha University in South Libya, said the four set out in two taxis on Wednesday but some 50 km from Tripoli, they were waylaid near Sirte’s checkpoint by unknown men suspected to be IS militants.
Before abducting them, the militants asked them to reveal their religious identity.
The abduction came to light thanks to the mobile phone left behind in the taxi by one of those kidnapped.
When his wife called the number, the taxi driver told about her what happened. Before long, the Indian mission in Tripli was alerted.
The area from where the Indians were kidnapped is under the control of the Islamic State. It is also the home town of Libya’s late dictator Muammar Gaddafi.