It was a moment of joy, relief and thanksgiving for the 71 Indian nationals who arrived at Palam technical area here on Friday morning from war-torn South Sudan. But even as they were thankful for their timely evacuation, many of them said they would like to return to the African country once the situation eases there as they had good opportunities to earn money.
The evacuated nationals came in a C17 Globemaster plane of the Indian Air Force which landed here at 10.45 am on Friday morning.
Of the total 156 Indian nationals evacuated from South Sudan, 85 deplaned at Thiruvananthapuram airport while 71 landed at Palam.
Naveen, 34, said that he could not come out of his home in Thongpiny area in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, since Friday when he heard gunfire outside.
"My neighbours residing there also faced the same situation and they are still stuck inside their homes. I heard news that the Indian government wanted to evacuate Indians from Juba. I approached the Indian embassy and have come back."
Naveen, who has been working as manager in Panorama Plaza (Hotel) in Juba for the last three years, said he wants "to go back after peace returns, as there are better earning opportunities."
"You have to take risks for something... I was there in 2013 when a similar situation erupted, but it was far better compared to now, that's why I decided to come back until peace returns there," Naveen said.
Chandrakant Singh, 56, said he left his home in the Munuki residential area in Juba when he heard heavy gunfire last Friday. "I left my belongings behind because of fear of being shot. I hope the situation improves and I am able to return to my work," Singh said.
Singh is an employee with the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) in Juba.
"I fled to save my life as the rival forces of President and Vice-President were battling each other using anti-aircraft guns, artillery, attack helicopters and tanks since Thursday," he said.
Asked why he wanted to go back, Singh smiled and said: "Obviously, money."
A resident of Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, Dinesh Kumar Yadav, 30, said though his home in the Hai Mauna area of Juba was at the centre of the fighting, he had decided to stay back hoping that the situation would return to normal, but his company asked him to return to India due to safety concerns.
"I fear to live there but money matters to me as I am the only earning member of my family of five. My father will not allow me to go back, but I will return when things settle down," Yadav, who works as operator in a waterplant in Juba, said.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir on Monday evening ordered a ceasefire after days of heavy fighting between government troops and forces loyal to Vice President Riek Machar in Juba.
The fighting has displaced tens of thousands of people from their homes.
South Sudan declared independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011.
Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh led 'Operation Sankat Mochan' to evacuate Indians from South Sudan which has been hit by violence.