Thursday, Jan 01, 2004
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By Our Staff Reporter
After a pall of gloom in Atmakur and Vavveru, their native places, in the wake of their kidnap, now it is happiness everywhere. None, including the two, was sure that they would be released so soon. Murali and Varadaiah are of the opinion that their kidnap was a mistaken identity. They told this reporter that the real target appeared to be Mike Boyce, a supervisor of the highway works, who reportedly had escaped in an earlier attempt.
On December 6, the two youngsters, one a lab technician and the other a hot mix plant operator, came out of their work spot in a company car to make telephone calls. Along with some labourers, the two employees left the work spot. After their travel of about 3 km, they were stopped by four armed persons. The two were whisked away blind-folded to an unknown place. At night on that day, the two were provided with local food that consisted of `roti' and other delicacies. The kidnappers had spoken Pakistani accented Urdu, besides the local Pushtu language. From their conversation, it was clear, the youngsters said, they were not the real target.
Varadaiah claimed that the places were in muddy terrain with no electricity and phone connection. Apart from the kidnappers, some others used to come and have discussions with the former. Their attitude was not harsh and allowed the two to write a letter to the management.
According to the two employees, there is a general goodwill and affection towards Indians, as India has provided a substantial rehabilitation package for the war-torn Afghanistan.
At one time, Murali said, his hopes were lost when he saw the captors offering prayers frequently. However, on December 23, there was a hectic activity and a positive change in the atmosphere, when one Abdul Salam Racketi, a mediator, appeared on the scene and handed over the two to the Governor of Ghajani province who, in turn, handed over them to the local commander. The kidnappers had informed it to the construction company and soon the directors were present on the scene. Later they were handed over to the Indian Embassy in Kabul where they had undergone medical tests and other formalities.
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