Why Do Indians Want to Return to Libya?

Libya has been witnessing the most violent among the protests that have been rocking the Middle East. After 40 years under the rule of Col. Muammar Gaddafi, Libyans rose in protest against his autocratic regime demanding his ouster. However, what separates Libya from Egypt is that Gaddafi is no Mubarak and refuses to quit. There are reports of violence unleased upon the populace by the government, and the people in turn, have taken things into their own hands and this has resulted in total chaos and lawlessness.

This article is not about the reasons or consequences for the violence, but the plight of Indians there. India has sent planes and ships to evacuate any willing people, and have succeeded in bringing home many. Kudos to that! Anyway, the news are full of horror stories Libya-returnees have been recounting. Tales of widespread arson, looting, people resisting being hacked to death without remorse, murder and other instances of wanton violence, people taking their new-found liberties into their own hands. Many were assaulted, their belongings and valuables snatched, there was utter chaos and stampedes at the airport and many and escaped with the skin of their teeth. Still, I read in Malayala Manorama a returned saying: “I hope the situation improves soon. I will be returning there as soon as I can“.

Now, I don’t know about the context on which this person made this comment, who he is or what his interests in Libya are. Apparently he was there for many years. My question is: If the place is a “living hell”, why return there? I mean, the person was assaulted, robbed, kicked around, shot at and what not.

Chaos outside Tripoli Airport. Courtesy: Reuters

Libya has been notorious for being in the news for all the wrong reasons. The government is totalitarian and brutal, the populace are dirt poor despite the countries vast resources. There seems to be little or no human rights. If that is the case for the residents, what rights will expats have? Still, why do people want to return there? In fact, I was surprised to learn that there are around 18,000 Indians there!

Again, it is the personal choice of that individual and needs to be respected. But, if opportunities are aplenty in your own country and there are many Arab countries itself which offer far better quality of life and you have more rights, why not move out? why suffer under the yoke of some foreign country? I would like to believe being India would make a lot more sense, than risking life and limb out there. Or is it that they are unaware that India has changed since they left for foreign shores?

In fact, I will not be surprised now to learn that there are a large number of expat Indians working in North Korea.

This post is also available in Malayalam

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