Kidnapped Helal talks with family from Libya
Bangladesh labourer Helal Uddin, who was kidnapped by militants in Libya on March 6, talked with his family in Jamalpur over phone today.
“I heard them (kidnappers) talking about my release in two or three days,” the migrant worker told his family over mobile phone in a choked voice.
The phone call at around 10:30am came as pleasant surprise for not only Helal’s family but also all the people of Dakkhin Gazaria village of Madarganj Upazila as they were keeping praying for his release since the news broke earlier this month.
During the four-minute conversation, the man could not say anything about the identity of his captors or location where he has been kept.
Unknown militants abducted Helal Uddin and Anowar Hossain, 38, another Bangladeshi from Goyeshpur village in Noakhali, along with seven other foreigners -- four Filipinos, an Austrian, a Czech and a Ghana national – from the Al-Ghani oil field, south of city of Sirte.
Eighteen days into the incident, the kidnappers allowed Helal Uddin to call his wife Aleya Khatun from one of their mobile phones.
“As he could not recognise my mother’s voice first, he asked for me,” Helema, the eldest of his three daughters and two sons, told The Daily Star’s Jamalpur correspondent.
Happy at hearing his voice after so many days, all the family members burst into tears.
“As we inquired about his health, he said, ‘I am alive’.”
When Helema asked her father when they are going to let him go, the man said he heard the his captors talking about releasing him in “two or three days”.
Asked what they give him to eat, Helal Uddin said they gave him “light food” once a day.
The conversation ended at this point as the captors seemingly hung up the phone.
Bangladesh foreign ministry in a press statement on March 9 said much-feared terrorist group Islamic State had abducted them.
But State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam yesterday told journalists that no militant group in Libya claimed responsibility for the abduction of the two Bangladeshis.
Bangladesh embassy officials in Tripoli said they were in touch with embassies of the Philippines and Austria and also with the Libyan authorities for their rescue.
Families of the two are passing their days in fear and total uncertainty.
Rubel, 13, one of the two sons of Helal Uddin, said he was not going to school as they were shocked after hearing the news of his father's abduction.
“Everybody is crying. How can I go to school?” said Rubel, student of class IX at Adarvita High School.
Aleya Khatun, wife of Helal, said her carpenter husband last came to Bangladesh 10 months back. Earlier, he had gone to Dubai in 2008, but returned home only after six months. Then in 2009, he went to Libya to seek his fortune.
He spent Tk 10 lakh for the job. He managed the money by selling his land and also by borrowing from relatives.
Meanwhile, Anowar Hossain of Noakhali was a diploma electrical engineer. He had first gone to Libya in 2010 and then again in 2012, according to our Noakhali correspondent.
Earlier, he had worked in Saudi Arabia since 2001. Upon his return in 2007, he married Marufa Khatun. The couple have two children -- Rahin, 7, and Raisha, 5 -- who are studying at Matuail Creative International School in Dhaka.
After hearing the news of his abduction, she tried to contact Anowar several times over the phone, but did not get any response.
Then she contacted Anowar's friend Moinul Hossain in Libya who quoted Anowar's company as saying that ISIS took him hostage.
She last talked to Anowar on March 5 and everything was fine then. But everything turned upside down all of a sudden, she said, adding that she was passing days in anxiety.
Mahmud Iqbal, Anowar's brother-in-law, said he was in touch with foreign ministry officials in Dhaka and the Bangladesh embassy in Tripoli for the immediate release of his relative.