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Libyan upheaval dashed his hopes

Biju Govind
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A Kozhikode native's wait for compensation comes to naught

K.P. Noorudheen
K.P. Noorudheen

One balmy afternoon in January this year, K.P. Noorudheen, a Libyan returnee in the city, received a call from his close friend in the North African country.

“We have won the case. The Misurata lower court has awarded the compensation package,” the caller, Abdul Basith, a Libyan, announced. More than a month later, the Arab Spring broke out in Libya, leading to a civil war and to the unseating of Muammar Qadhafi from power and his gory death last week.

Now Mr. Noorudheen feels that his decade-long legal battle against the company has come to naught. This 57-year-old had worked with the Rata Footwear Leather Factory, a government unit in Libya, from 1980 to 2000. He met with two accidents while on duty. But the management refused him gratuity, relief package, and compensation.

He had to stay back in Libya till 2004, taking up work in another government firm, the Misurata Construction Company, to meet his court expenses. “Initially, the judiciary at the lower levels awarded a compensation of 40,000 Libyan dinars. The High Court endorsed the verdict. But the Supreme Court struck down the order citing technical flaws in the trial. The case remained there for almost a year,” he told The Hindu on Thursday.

Mr. Noorudheen approached Qadhafi and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, in 2004 writing to them to speed up his case. “The then Libyan President might have considered his case having worked in his country for 24 years. Amazingly, the Supreme Court, within a week, asked the lower court to look into the issue. But even then the case had its long duration,” Mr. Noorudheen recollected.

After the full-scale revolt broke out in February, Noorudheen lost contact with Basith. “I don't know whether he is dead or alive. The popular unrest could have destroyed the court documents and even the court complex itself. Now it all depends on the next government after the National Transitional Council moves out. Maybe, I will have to move a fresh petition through the Centre,” he said.

Years ago, as many other Indians, Mr. Noorudheen was directly recruited by the Libyan government in 1980 during the oil-led economic boom. Unfortunately, his left hand was crushed and seriously injured with multiple fractures from shoulder to wrist in an accident in 1993. He had a similar fate in 1997. The Libyan Medical Committee had declared him 45 per cent disabled.

“Hundreds of Indian emigrants in the medical field, teaching departments, and construction sector had to face ill-treatment in Libya. Many had left without getting retirement benefits. Some sought pastures in Gulf Cooperation Council nations,” he said.


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