The dawn of Sunday brought more than 500 Indians here from Libya
with tales of suffering and killings in the strife-torn country.
Some said they had gone without food and water and vowed never to
Relieved family members hugged and
kissed those who flew in on two Air India flights. Almost all
those who escaped from the turmoil in Libya left behind all their
assets and jobs.
Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed and Foreign
Secretary Nirupama Rao received the evacuated Indians at the
The first flight, a Boeing 737, carried 291 Indians and the
second, an Airbus A330, had 237 on board. While the Boeing landed
at about midnight, the second came around 4.10 a.m.
Most of those who flew in Sunday were from Tripoli and had been
the first to reach the Indian embassy in the Libyan capital. They
admitted that most of the trouble was outside Tripoli.
Sajjan Lal, a doctor, said many Indians underwent agony in the
last few days, with even water and food supplies being snapped in
the turmoil that has seen anti-government protests and the regime
of Muammar Gaddafi hitting back. Over 1,000 people are reported to
have been killed in the violence.
"There was no water to drink, no food supply," Lal told reporters.
Another Indian, Mohammed Sali, said he and some other Indians did
not have anything to eat for four or five days. "Somehow we
escaped" the rampaging mobs, he said.
Another woman who did not give her name insisted she would never
go back to Libya, even if peace returned to the country.
Sunday's flights are the first in a series meant to evacuate some
18,000 Indians in Libya, which has seen massive anti-Gaddafi
protests since the middle of February.
Opposition groups have taken over some cities and have vowed to
bring down Gaddafi, who has ruled Libya since 1969.
"The trouble was mainly outside Tripoli. We were not involved in
the trouble but feared it could affect us in Tripoli in the near
future," said one of the passengers.
Minister Ahamed said arrangements had been made to help the
returning Indians reach their hometowns at government cost.
Rao said she visited the airport to receive "our citizens".
Officials said the Indians who flew home were provided food and
allowed to telephone their families.
Meanwhile, three Indian Navy ships have sailed to Libya to help in
the evacuation of the Indians.
The external affairs ministry said a passenger ship, now in the
Mediterranean Sea, had been chartered for evacuation and was
expected to reach Benghazi Monday.
INS Jalashwa and INS Mysore have medical facilities on board,
including operation theatres, doctors and paramedical staff. They
set sail from Mumbai. The ships are also carrying helicopters and
Special Forces personnel.
Another ship, INS Aditya, is accompanying the rescue ships to
provide them logistics support.
The ships will evacuate Indians from Libya to either Malta or
Egypt, from where they will be transferred by air to India. The
rescue fleet is expected to reach Libya in 10 days, an official