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A village gets ready to welcome its hero

Staff Reporter
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Biju escaped from militants in the Philippines after 14 months in captivity

K.V. Biju with his family.
K.V. Biju with his family.

Kolara Veetil Biju, who made a daring escape last Friday from Abu Sayyaf militants after 14 months in captivity in the Philippines, will reach home along with his Filipino wife Aleena and their two children Arjun and Ajay on Sunday.

The family will arrive here from Mumbai by an Air India flight at 1 p.m. They have boarded a Malaysian Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur and will reach Mumbai on Saturday night. “The Union Ministry for Home has asked the Central Industrial Security Force to make arrangements for their stay in Mumbai,” K.V. Shybu, Biju’s brother, told The Hindu .

A hero’s welcome awaits Biju and his family at his village at Palakulangara on Sunday. At the airport, they will be received by Koyilandy legislator K. Dasan; Moodadi grama panchayat president K. Jeevanandan and other elected representatives, relatives and friends. Biju and Aleena had met in Kuwait and had married at the Arya Samajam in Kozhikode city.

An action committee previously formed to get him released from the outlawed Islamist group will accord a reception to the family. The road leading to his house has been decorated with festoons, giving the otherwise sleepy village a festive feel.

Shybu said that the Union Minister of State for Home Mullappally Ramachandran had been trying to get his brother released from his captives for more than a year. After his escape, the Minister’s office took measures to clear official procedures from the Indian Embassy in Manila, he said. Biju, 37, who was working as operations manager in a Korean firm in Kuwait since 2002, was abducted at gunpoint by five militants at the Sulu province of the Philippines, on June 22, 2011. He was there on a vacation with family. The radical outfit, which has links with al-Qaeda, demanded a ransom of 50 lakh pesos (roughly Rs.66 lakh).

The militants contacted the Indian Embassy only six days after the abduction. They attempted to attack his wife’s house with bombs after she sought the Army’s help to get her husband released. His wife’s uncle was injured after stepping on a landmine planted by the militants.

Biju had escaped when his captors were asleep in an undisclosed location inside a forest. Local people had guided him to the nearby police station.

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