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Kerala families keep anxious eye on Bahrain

Saturday February 19, 2011 07:07:54 PM, IANS

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Thiruvananthapuram: Families and regional experts in Kerala are anxiously following the ongoing turmoil in several Middle Eastern countries, especially Bahrain which has a large Indian diaspora.

"Of the 2.3 million Keralites in the various Middle East countries, one lakh (100,000) are in Bahrain -- our state having a little over 50 percent of all Indians in Bahrain, according to our state-wide survey done in 2008," S.Irudayarajan, head of the migration unit at the Centre for Development Studies here, told IANS.

As a pro-democracy uprising demanding the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa family swells in Bahrain, troops fired at anti-government protesters in Manama Friday, wounding at least 66. Four were killed and 50 others injured earlier when security forces attacked sleeping protesters in the city Thursday.

So far, there is no report of any Indian being harmed in the country as well as in the protests sweeping Libya, Yemen, Jordan and Algeria.

According to Irudayarajan, it is "very early to predict" if there will be an exodus of Indians from the area, like after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 or more recently, after the economic recession.

"It seems people there have learned not to panic in such situations," he said.

Jacob Mathew and his wife, living near Kochi, are watching the situation in Bahrain closely because their son and daughter are working there.

"We speak to them twice daily and we know they do not want us to get worried so they say that things are fine and there is nothing to worry. But we are always watching TV and reading newspaper reports, which also show that things are a bit tense there," Mathew said.

"We are praying and we have told them that they should be careful," said 65-year-old Mathew.







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