Tuesday, June 9, 2015

No Indian shall be left behind the enemy line.

For some time, I was working for a petroleum drilling company which used to have its Rigs in Libya and Gabon. The company started its operations in Libya when Gaddafi was the supreme leader of Libya and many indian companies were working in petroleum and infrastructure sector. Around 2010-11, Nato forces chose to 'liberate' Libya of Gaddafi and rebel forces started to bomb the cities. The country became very volatile and thousands of Indians had to leave Libya.

Many of my co-workers who had worked at Punj Lloyd Rig Site in Libya had a very bad experience of that period. They used to tell the stories of Libyan civil war and how they were abandoned in the desert of Libya.

Normally, one Petroleum Rig has around 40-50 Indian workers who work on a schedule of 35 days on duty and 35 days off duty. When the war broke out, It was the responsibility of Indian Government and the company to evacuate the workers. Around 40 rig workers were stuck in the desert as petroleum drilling sites are always located in far flung areas and dependent on monthly supply of food, diesel and water. 20 of them were evacuated in early phases as the company negotiated few seats in a chartered flight of another indian company which flew from Tripoli. The rest of the people had to wait at the rig site with fingers crossed. The things which were available to them were internet, limited food stock of 30 days, diesel for generators, few tanks full of water, some medical supplies in the medical room.

The wait game started and the war escalated. It was a drive of 7-8 hours in the desert to reach Benghazi Airport but the situation had changed overnight. Rebels were roaming around everywhere and looting and murders were going on with nobody to control it. Those Indians of Rig site stayed in the bunkers for almost 40 days, spent nights without electricity so that light would not attract rebels. the fear of rebel attack could become reality any moment. Company was unable to do anything, Government did not care at all. Indian Government had launched Operation Safe Home coming which could only help if indian nationals were based in Tripoli and the operation stopped in later stages. Several SOS messages were sent but nothing happened.

The constant fear of death had exhausted them and finally they decided to take things in their own hands. They collected all the fund available with them. They gave their watches, gold chains, everything worth something and this is how they convinced a local driver to bring a small truck to the rig site. They abandoned the rig and started a bone chilling journey to reach the border of Egypt. None of them had passports as company used to keep them in the base office of Tripoli. They saw burnt towns, dead bodies. It was a miracle that all of them reached Egypt border safely. The Indian ambassador posted in Egypt, was informed by Egyptian border authorities and from there onwards, food was provided, they did local sight seeing in Cairo and they were given flight tickets to return to India. the fear of death was gone but the memories shall remain forever.

Now compare it to Indian government response in the case of evacuation from Iraq when Government ensured that all the nurses were evacuated safely. The indian minister personally goes to Yemen and Indian Navy evacuates hundreds of indian expatriates stuck in Yemen. All this happens when navy boats are under constant attack from rebel forces in Yemen.

The Indian Government is ensuring that every indian is taken out of the war zone.This contrast in the response of two governments is stark. it tells us how the present government is bringing the confidence back and any indian who is present anywhere in the world, feels he is not  alone.This confidence is not a small thing. It is praiseworthy. 

More Power to Modi Government.

No comments: