A Keralite who escaped from the captivity of an extremist group in the Philippines returned home to Kozhikode on Sunday, ending 14 months' of ordeal in an emotional re-union with kin and friends.
"I thank God. But for his mercy I would not have got back to my home and my people," 36-year-old Kollara Veettil Biju said on his arrival at Kozhikode International airport by an Air India flight from Mumbai.
Biju was abducted by terrorist group Abu Sayaff in June last year while on a visit to the Philippines, from where his wife Elena came.
After remaining in captivity of the gun-wielding ultras, he managed to escape earlier this month. His passage to India, along with his wife and two children, was facilitated by the Indian government with the help of Philippines authorities.
Biju, Elena and their children were received at the airport by friends and well-wishers. They then drove straight to home at Moodadi near Koilandy town, where the entire village had gathered to welcome him, about whose fate they had shared concern for over an year.
"This is a like second life. When I was in captivity, I never thought I would be released and reach my country and rejoin my dear and near ones," he said.
Biju's father Narayanan, an ex-serviceman, mother Nalini and the entire family, neighbours and well-wishers heaved a sigh of relief as he returned home.
Biju was working as an operations manager in a garment unit in Kuwait. He was taken captive by the terror group from Sulu province in the Philippines. After his escape from the abductors, Biju managed to reach a police station and explained his plight to the policemen.
The Philippines officials later informed Indian authorities about Biju and he contacted his family over phone a few days back.