Libyans were nice to us, says returnee

Rafiq, with the staff of the National Heart Centre of Libya.

The battle between embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi and the rebels has not affected the enormous goodwill that exists for Indians in the north African country.

Rafiq Ahmed, who worked as a male nurse in Libya, is back home at Multani Colony here, and he narrated to Deccan Herald his heart-warming experience with the Libyans, as he and his family of wife and a one-year-old child managed to return from the war zone that the oil-rich nation has turned into.

Libyan soldiers accompanied Rafiq’s family to the airport, even as they dodged the strafing bombers and the scorching sun. The soldiers did not forget to ask the family to return once peace prevails in the country. They bid the family farewell with “Shukran indi” (Thank you, Indians).

The life Rafiq had built for himself in a far-off land crumbled in no time, with the anti-Gaddafi rebellion exploding and the US-led Nato forces launching an all-out attack against the government forces and their strongholds. Like many other Indian families, the Rafiqs returned home. Rafiq thanks Foreign Minister S M Krishna for his efforts to repatriate Indians living in Libya.

Rafiq and his family lived just 15 km away from Gadhafi’s house. Rafiq, who worked with the National Heart Centre at Tajura-Tripoli for four years, relived his experiences for Deccan Herald. “America is consuming countries one by one for its thirst for oil and it is Libya’s turn now,” says Rafiq.

The US has created strife in Libya by projecting Gadhafi as a dictator. Lives of migrants from other countries, who came here in search of jobs, were akin to jumping from the frying pan into the fire when war started, recounted Rafiq.

“Gadhafi started a people’s movement to free his motherland from Italy’s clutches. Later on, he built the country from scratch. His contribution is immense in providing basic facilities to the people of his country,” says Rafiq. According to him, there are a few anti-Gadhafi elements in Libya, and the US has been encouraging them. But what the media has been conveying is a totally different story to the world, he rues.

In desert-like Libya, petrol is cheaper than water, says Rafiq. A dinar (36 Indian rupees) buys six litres of petrol, but only three litres of water. To provide water for his people, the Gadhafi government created a man-made river in this desert country by sinking 3,000 wells and linking them, says Rafiq. Libyans will never forget him for this great deed, he adds.

Rafiq fondly remembers the time when President Gadhafi was admitted to hospital where he worked for the treatment of a heart ailment.

He recalls seeing Gadhafi from a distance of just 100 metres. The public did not experience any inconvenience due to the fighting between the Army and the rebels, says Rafiq. Both sides ensured that there was no collateral damage in the battle.  Once he lives down the horror of a place that Libya has become, Rafiq will get down to the task of finding a job for himself in Bidar.

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