Dubai: A Dubai-based Indian businessman held captive in Yemen has been reunited with his family after nearly five months.
Keralite Suresh Kumar Krishna Pillai, 59, flew to Mumbai from the port city of Aden on late Friday afternoon shortly after being released from an Al Houthi prison in war-torn Sana’a following the intervention of Indian authorities.
He was received at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport by his son Jithin before being taken to a hospital for medical examination.
“My father went through hell. It’s taken a huge toll on his physical and mental health. He’s in a very bad shape. His health is our top priority,” Jithin told Gulf News over the phone from Mumbai.
Originally from Thiruvananthapuram, Pillai had gone to Yemen on a business trip, but went missing within days of landing in Aden on July 2, sparking concern among his family and friends.
Son, partner, thank Gulf News
Gulf News was the first media house to report about his disappearance. Pillai’s son and business partner said the newspaper’s report played a huge role in securing the release.
“If Pillai is alive today, it’s largely because of the August 31 Gulf News report,” said Pillai’s friend and business partner Shivadasan Valappil. “The report brought the case to the attention of the offices of the Indian prime minister and the external affairs ministry who immediately swung into action. They worked relentlessly with Indian Ambassador to Yemen Ashok Kumar and second secretary Anil Kumar to get Pillai out of prison. They were stationed in Djibouti but operated through the Indian embassy in charge Badar Ali in Sana’a to coordinate efforts for Pillai’s release,” said Valappil, a longtime UAE resident and managing director of Dubai-based company Infinity Global Loyalties.
Jithin said he’s thankful to Gulf News for bringing the story in public domain. Jithin had been spending sleepless nights since Pillai’s disapperance and had even made a desperate appeal to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi via twitter to help
Business trip gone wrong
Flight ticket details accessed by Gulf News show Pillai went to Yemen via Sudan on July 2. He flew to Khartoum from Dubai on July 1 before taking a Queen Bilqis Airways flight to Aden the following afternoon.
Pillai had gone to Yemen to seek a loan which he hoped would fund an Ethanol (alcohol fuel) manufacturing plant he was trying to set up in Belgaum in the southwest Indian state of Karnataka.
The multimillion dollar project sprawls over 140 acres.
“The plant was nearing completion but as luck would have it, Pillai ran out of funds and the project was declared a non performing asset by Indian banks. Left with no choice, he was forced to look elsewhere for funding,” Vallapil told Gulf News earlier.
Since then Pillai was reportedly in touch with some private parties in Yemen who offered him a mortgage loan.
“When he pledged his property documents with them, the private parties sent him documents showing a bank account had been opened in his name with a deposit of Dh67 million. Pillai was then called to Yemen to complete certain formalities and take the funds. However something happened down the line and he ended up being held captive. I am glad he’s back with his family now,” added Valappil.
Details about why he was held captive remain sketchy.