25 June, 2021

Suddenly 'Alienated'

The bloodbath at the Oasis sends a frisson of panic down Saudi-based Indians

Suddenly 'Alienated'
There's no exodus yet, no outward signs of panic. But the terrorist attack that killed eight Indians in the eastern city of Al Khobar last fortnight has compelled the 1.4 million Indians in Saudi Arabia to realise they can no longer be complacent about the future.

Like Thomas Varghese Cherian (not his real name), an anaesthetist at King Faisal Hospital in Riyadh, who rises at dawn to drop his children off to school before arriving at work, ahead of his American boss who is a stickler for time. Cherian, 42, who hails from Varkala, Kerala, says his routine has changed little in the 10 years he has lived in the largely somnolent kingdom. "It was an ideal world," he says. The spate of attacks on foreigners, including the one last year in May which targeted Americans and Britons close to his residence, followed by restrictions and stepped-up security after every subsequent terrorist attack, left him deeply troubled but caused no ripple in his social life.

Until last Sunday, May 30 that is, when the terrorist siege of the Oasis compound in the oil city of Al Khobar left...

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