Absconding farmer Biju Kurian lands in Kerala, says left group for pilgrimage

Biju claimed the decision to leave Israel was his own and no agency tracked him down. Photo: Special Arrangement.

Kozhikode: Biju Kurian, the Kerala farmer who went missing in Israel, upon his arrival at the Karipur airport early morning today, tried to justify his absconding act saying he wanted to visit holy places in that country, and also sought an “unconditional apology” from all for the controversy arising out of the episode.

Biju, a 48-year-old farmer from Iritty in Kannur, was part of a 27-member group, led by Agricultural Department Principal Secretary B Ashok, sent by the Kerala Government to Israel to study modern farming techniques on February 12. However, he gave a slip to the authorities and went missing on the night of February 17, forcing the Indian embassy there to dole out a stern warning.

Stating that no agencies came looking for him in Israel, Biju said he returned on his own. He pointed out that his visa was valid till May 8 and that no agencies there could have taken action against him, and that he had no plans to overstay in that country.

Excerpts from Biju’s own version
“We went to Israel to study modern agricultural practices. I was part of the 26-member delegation that went there. We indulged in field visits and all from Sunday to Thursday. There is a lot for us to learn from the agricultural practices followed by the people there. A state like Kerala could implement a lot of things from there. For instance, there they get the same returns from one-acre cultivation of oranges that we earn from a five-acre orange grove here. That’s because of the most modern scientific techniques used there.

“After completing the visits, we’re scheduled to return on a Sunday, February 19. I had decided that since I reached Israel, I would also visit the holy places in that country. Hence, I went to visit the Jerusalem church. The next day, I travelled to Bethlehem. By Saturday, when it was time for us to return, I came to know that it had become a big issue. I didn’t know what to do, as the responses from certain quarters were really bad.

“As I was really sad over the episode, I couldn’t focus on other things. I continued to stay there on that day too. Then, with the help of another person, I contacted my wife over the phone and told her that I was safe and that I would return home. I rang up my brother. He assured me there was nothing to fear and that he would provide me with all help. It was my brother who booked my return ticket with the help of somebody else. That’s how I returned.

“What had led to the big issue was that I couldn’t join back with the group after I parted away from them. I seek an unconditional apology to my household; the 26 members who were along with me, especially Ashok sir; the Agricultural department, the Agriculture minister, and the State Government. The situation was such that I couldn’t contact the rest of the delegation members. The Wi-Fi was available only at the hotel where we stayed and the bus on which I travelled. Otherwise, I should have had an ISD facility on my phone, which wasn’t there.

However, my visa was having validity till May 8. No one would question me if I walk through the streets of that country till that date. No agency came looking for me there, he said.

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