The 14-month wait is over for the family of Kolara Veetil Biju, who made a daring escape on Friday from the Abu Sayyaf militants in the Philippines.
Biju, 37, who was working in Kuwait, was abducted at gunpoint at the Sulu province in the Philippines, on June 22, 2011. He was there on a vacation with his Filipino wife, Aleena, and two children, Arjun and Ajay. The militant group, which has links with al-Qaeda, demanded a ransom of 50 lakh pesos (roughly Rs.66 lakh).
K.V. Shybu, Biju’s brother, initially kept in touch with the outlawed Islamist outfit that had captured at least six persons — from Malaysia, the United States, and Australia — for ransom.
“Of course we had no means of paying the money. We approached the State government, Union Ministers and the Embassy. His wife and children were forced to stay at the Philippines to negotiate with the abductors,” Shybu said.
The family lost hope when Biju’s release got delayed. “We heard rumours that Biju was killed by the gang.” Then, around 2.30 a.m. on Friday, Aleena called Shybu and gave the news of Biju’s escape, apparently when the captors were asleep. Biju told his family that while the hands and legs of other hostages were bound, his were not, and hence he could escape.
After the news spread, relatives and friends have been thronging Biju’s house at Vellarakad near Koyilandy here. His father, Narayanan, 73, is ecstatic. Biju had called him from the Sulu provincial police office. “The days of anxiety are over. I want to see him as soon as possible,” he told The Hindu. Their mother, Nalini, 59, had been on the verge of depression. “I have been praying all these months,” she said.
Biju and Aleena had met in Kuwait and they married at the Arya Samajam in Kozhikode city. Biju was an active participant in the local theatre scene.