KARNATAKA

Pilot's family celebrates his return

There was jubilation and celebration at Syed Manowar's house near Lalbagh West Gate in the city on Thursday. Family members flew down from Dubai to be part of the celebrations.

Syed Mazhar, 26, was held captive by Congo rebels for over a week and was released on August 2. Mr. Mazhar flew down to the city after being released by the rebels on August 2.

Relief was clearly visible on Mr. Manowar's face after he saw his son, who was working as a pilot in Congo. “I will not send my son back to Congo. I want him to be with us and find work here,” he said. Mr. Manowar's feelings were mirrored by the other family members.

Recalling the harrowing time with the rebels, Mr. Mazhar said the Congo rebels shot at the aircraft he was piloting and entered it forcibly when he was just about to take off from the Goma airfield. “They took me and eight other Congo nationals as hostage. They made us walk long hours in the forest for five days. We were then taken to their secret hideout.”

Following intervention by the Indian Embassy and Department of External Affairs, Government of India, there were negotiations between the Congo Government and the rebels.

“I was released after more than a week. Soon after release, I was relieved to see a fellow Indian, a doctor with the U.N. Peacekeeping Force,” he said.

Asked if he would like to return to Congo, he was noncommittal.

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