Migrant plumbers recount tales of horror in Libya

Kendrapara: Scenes of human misery and horror in strife-torn Libya have come to light as a band of migrant plumbers from this coastal district of Orissa returned to their native village to recount their harrowing ordeal.

Kendrapara, known for its human resources, has seen its skilled population, including plumbers, migrating to the Middle-East over the years to eke out a better living.

Six plumbers who returned safely to their families said here today that it was a providential escape from a virtual death-trap.

"It was a sort of lucky escape from the claws of death. I am fortunate in the sense that I lived in the Libyan capital city of Tripoli. That`s why I could come back with my friend Saroj. Things are precarious everywhere," Somanath Bhuyan (25), a plumber from Diyanpatana village in Pattamundai area said.

"There is no safety of life and property in Libya. But things are somewhat better in the capital city where the Gadaffi regime holds grip over anti-government uprisings," Bhuyan said.

Saroj Khuntia of Nimapur village, who also fled from that country, agreed with his friend.

Recalling the traumatic days in the aftermath of uprising against Libyan ruler, Saroj said, "Since February 17, we were holed up in the quarters given to us by the company.

We stopped venturing outdoors."

"After daybreak, gunshots terrified us daily. The employers were giving us two square meals every day. As ration thinned out, the food quantity dropped. It was chaos every where. From within the closed doors, we have heard people screaming and crying for help," Saroj said.

"With armed escort, we, a group of fifty India workers, were carried in a van to the airport. It was 24 hours painstaking wait at the airport before we were airlifted on March 3 to New Delhi," he said.

"More than two dozen workers from Kendrapara district are still stranded in that country. All of them are plumbers based in Libya?s eastern and western parts.

One of them, Rama Chandra Das from Chandiagadi village of Rajnagar tehsil, had talked to me over phone. The telephone network was poor. He and five others from Rajnagar are locked in no-man?s land of Zawiya," Khuntia (24), a resident of Nimapur said.