Stranded in war zones of Yemen for over several days, four skilled personnel from Odisha's Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara have made a safe return to their villages.
Far away from hostile environs of the civil-war-torn country, the workers recounted their ordeal and how they had a providential escape from death. They expressed their gratitude to the Union Government and Union Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh for having come to the aid of stranded Indians when it mattered the most. The workers returning from Yemen have harrowing tales to tell. Mohammad Iftekar Amir (32) of village Aul, a pharmacist who landed safely in Bhubaneswar on April 10, said he was back to where he started.
“Everything was done meticulously for our safe return. The bombing is still on in capital city Sanna and Aden, the port city. We have got a new lease of life. I spent many sleepless nights following deafening sound of bombardment”.
“I was working as a pharmacist in Algarsh Pharmacy Company in the capital Sanaa since 2006. My six-year-old son was studying in an Indian school managed by the Indian Embassy in Sanaa. Last December, my wife and two sons left Sanaa after trouble started. But I was forced to stay back to earn money. I left Yemen with nothing. I came back with only the shirt on my back. My dream for a better life is shattered and I am back where I had started, jobless and in deep debt. I was getting a monthly salary of around Rs 75,000 per month. My future is now at stake,” said Amir in his house with his father, wife and two sons.
Things got worse towards the second week of March, he said.
“By then Yemen had turned into full-fledged conflict zone. I was staying in a posh locality of Sanna. Though the area was free from conflict, the cacophony of gun battles and bombardment reverberated the air after daybreak. To stay in Yemen was unsafe. A misguided missile could kill anybody at anytime”, he recalled.
“The Indian government promptly intervened. On April 5, we, a group of 120 Indians were airlifted to Djibouti. A total number of 342 Indians were flown from Djibouti to Kochi by special flight. 250 returnees were from Kerala. From Kochi, we landed by air in Mumbai. I travelled back to Odisha by train”, he said. “The Maharastra government arranged the train fare and provided us Rs 3,000 as travel expenses. Ironically there was no response from Odisha government though my relatives had apprised the local administration”, Amir said.
Another worker of Jagatsinghpur, Mohammad Ali said, “Yemen was a nice place to live in before the civil war erupted. I was working in a hotel in Sanna. I was paid handsomely and the employers were worker-friendly. I still hope to return to Yemen once the situation improves there”. Sheikh Tahis of Brahmabarada in Jajpur district recalled “As trouble started, I decided to leave Yemen. My employer in Hudaida Port City was generous. The Indian Embassy was informed. I flew back to India on March 4 after government intervention”.
—Panchanan Agarwalla from Bhubaneshwar