Middle East

The invasion they remember…

Times Kuwait Report

At 5:00 am on August 2, 1990, M. Mathews was awakened from his sleep by the persistent high-pitched ringing of his doorbell and a loud bang on his front door. Matthews, still sleepy and absent-minded, went out the door and asked for water in the face of men in military uniforms.
Startled, he asked who they were. The answer was a harsh shock, as I heard the invasion of Kuwait directly from the mouth of a horse, so to speak.

The day before, he had seen on Kuwaiti TV a photo of a grim-faced Sheikh Saad Al Abdullah returning from fruitless talks in Saudi Arabia. Matthews knew the situation was dire, but he had no idea it would be so embarrassing. At the time, his mansion, near the American Embassy and adjacent to the Dasman Palace, then the official residence of the Emir, was bombed by the Iraqis. It reminded him of the full range of dangers and dangers of the situation.

A respected and prominent member of the Indian community and a longtime resident of Kuwait, Matthews felt a strong sense of responsibility to the community. He considered it his duty to assist his fellow Indian expats during his crisis. A few days after the invasion, he moved into a friend’s house in Salmiya, where he joined the Indian Citizens’ Committee (), established to provide assistance and shelter to Indians in need, until his departure in mid-October 1990. ICC) played a leading role. of support.

The ICC’s role in helping the Indians during the invasion is widely appreciated. The commission has been instrumental in organizing mass evacuations of Indians, including providing food and shelter to hundreds of Indians affected by the invasion and housing those displaced from border camps in volunteer homes. played an important role. from Kuwait. Matthews, who sadly passed away in 2017, poignantly recalled the dark days and months of the invasion in an interview with her Kuwaiti newspaper The Times several years ago. People drove to food warehouses of major Indian trading companies Zahem and Malhotra to collect food distributed by the company. Bakeries across the country, which surprisingly still functioned, were also an important source of the Arabian bread, kubu.

But the most emotionally taxing task the commission had to perform was arranging for the burial of the bodies of the Indian expatriates or their repatriation. Matthews, who was sunk in the past, pointed out that in those times of panic, tragedy was an inevitable outcome. He recalled a particularly poignant story of his entire family dying in an accident en route to safety in India.

Those were tense times. People panicked and many insisted on leaving by sea alone. This was not possible as demand far exceeded the capacity of the ships allowed to send people back to India. Communication was a big issue. The ICC showed great ingenuity and courage in getting around that particular obstacle. A radio amateur was captured and moved to avoid detection by Iraqi forces. Through this radio, people maintained contact with the Indian authorities. Matthew had his own problems, too. A group of Iraqi soldiers robbed him of all his personal belongings at gunpoint and caused financial losses to his business as well, but these incidents marked the most valuable thing he had yet: his I was just grateful for my life.

On October 18, Matthews decided to leave Kuwait after a significant number of Indians had been evacuated. He didn’t think twice about his decision. He was one of only eight of his 51 original members of the ICC still in the country.

Back in India, Mathews focused his energies on his business interests in Dubai. Luckily, he was well off financially and the losses he suffered in Kuwait didn’t affect him as much as most others. I returned to Kuwait in June 1991. The visit was a short stay of three days, but he eventually returned to stay.

For Matthews, the invasion of Iraq was enough evidence of the unpredictability of life that he never took it for granted. Although he has no fond memories of the invasion, Mathews said he has fond memories of the bravery of the Indian community in the face of adversity, especially the solidarity displayed among all Indian residents of Kuwait. I was.

He regretted some of the knee-jerk decisions he made during that time, adding that if he had to try again, he would try to be more organized. That was it. It is the belief that in a foreign country regional differences mean nothing and that all Indians are the same.

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