He had just stopped reading ‘Crime and Punishment’ by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The after-effect of its pleasure still hypnotized him. A gentle knock on the door disturbed his reverie. He got up and opened the door. An exchange of greetings followed between the host and the two guests. While Rakesh prepared coffee for them in the kitchen, the visitors surveyed the flat closely.
Rakesh did not know Arabic well. So he could hardly communicate with them. He had occasionally seen the visitors shopping in the market and had got acquainted with them. The purpose of their visit was still not known to Rakesh, and he was too polite to ask. However, having finished their coffee, somewhat in a hurried manner, the two guests stood up to go.
They shook hands warmly with Rakesh and thanked him for his generosity in offering coffee. Strangely, it was during that moment of exchange of warmth, they held Rakesh’s hands tightly. Rakesh had no clue as to what was happening. Soon, his hands were tied. They gagged him ruthlessly and stuffed a pair of socks into his mouth to shut him up. They even threatened Rakesh with dire consequences if he chose not to cooperate with them.
Then the onslaught continued with duo storming every room, opening the cupboards and picking up things of their choice. They collected what they thought would sell best – High Definition TV, laptop, Internet router, watches and so on. They also robbed him of a few hundred dollars. At the end of it all, the two acquaintances-turned-robbers coerced Rakesh into signing a blank cheque. Then they drove their car away and disappeared.
The incident, which lasted for over an hour, happened on 16 February, 2015 at Khooms in Libya. Rakesh was completely devastated. The news of outrage spread like wildfire among the foreigners particularly among those of Indian community in Libya.
Many decided to finish off their contract of teaching at the university and leave the country immediately. Many were cautious to comment. Almost two months since the attack, none of the Indian teachers, including the victim, has left Libya. What binds the Indian professionals to stay in Libya despite security concerns is truly a point to ponder.
Upon being asked Dinesh Vaskar, a medical Professor in the University of Al-Merghib, Khooms, said, ‘An incident like this does not merit generalization. An Indian woman was recently killed in Australia. That is no reason for all Indian nationals to leave Australia.’
Rakesh, the victim himself, had resigned and was planning to leave the country just after the attack but later withdrew his resignation from the University of Al-Merghib, Al-Khooms.
“I was very upset then. The urge to return to India was so strong then. But by now, I’ve learnt from experience. I will avoid to getting friendly with strangers too easily,” he added.
Undoubtedly, university teachers in Libya have one of the highest paid jobs. Many believe it is a life time opportunity to stay back and work so long as the country needs their service. Security is truly a concern at the moment for the both Libyans and immigrants alike. Attempts to form a united government have failed. Uncertainty still rules, yet foreign immigrants live and work.
Dinesh, a male nurse working in the Central Hospital of Zliten, remarked, “Lawlessness does really frighten us. Sometimes I feel like packing up and leaving, but then financial realities prevail upon us.”
When the news of Egyptian Christians being ruthlessly murdered by ISIS at the coastal city of Sirt in Libya spread around, an Indian professional Athis Ramajian could not return to Libya after his winter vacation. He felt devastated. He had tried his level best but his visa had expired, and all flights to Libya were cancelled then.
Thousands of Indian professionals, besides other foreign nationals, do still work at various jobs in Libya. The feeling of attraction and repulsion tears them apart. It is a hard choice to make. The decisions elude.