Video Producer/Editor: Shohini Bose
Vijay Kumar, a 36-year-old from Uttarakhand, is missing in the aftermath of the disastrous earthquake that hit Turkey on 6 February, claiming at least 15,000 lives. Vijay, a technician for a gas-plant company, Oxyplant India Pvt Ltd, in Bengaluru, had gone to Turkey on 25 January and was staying at Avsar Hostel, Malatya.
Now, the hotel is reduced to a rubble and his family in Uttarakhand and colleagues in Bengaluru are waiting to hear from him. His brother Arun Kumar, who is based in Pauri Garwahl of Uttarakhand, told The Quint, "We used to talk on the phone each night since he left for Turkey, but on Sunday night (6 February early morning) his call did not come. The next day we realised an earthquake had hit the country."
Vijay's wife Pinky Gaur and their 6-year-old son have since been waiting for news about him. His father Ramesh Chand Gaur had died of a cardiac arrest in December 2022.
"We were just recovering from our father's demise," Arun said. Their mother, Sumitra Devi, lives with Arun in Uttarakhand. "We are hoping that Vijay would return home safe," Arun said, as he hurried to attend a call from Indian authorities in Turkey.
Travel to Turkey
Vijay Kumar was deputed to Turkey for the installation and commissioning of an acetylene gas plant in Malatya. He secured his passport (W4190958) and got his visa (58035734) on 17 January 2023.
“Vijay Kumar was a talented technician. He was one of our core team members. He would diligently submit his report every day from Turkey. I didn’t receive them the last few days. That’s when I started panicking about his safety,” Ramesh Siddappa, managing director of Oxyplants India Private Limited, told The Quint.
Siddappa tried calling Vijay on his cell phone, which was ringing till recently, but with no response. The MD then decided to seek the help of the Indian Embassy as well as the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Vijay's family said that the MEA has been trying to trace Vijay for the last two days. "We have been in touch with the Indian Embassy and Indian authorities. But so far, we have not got any information," Arun Kumar said. Rescue operations are currently underway at the spot where Vijay's hotel once stood.
After working for a Delhi firm, Vijay turned to Oxyplant, Bengaluru over a year ago. His brother Arun Kumar was already working at the firm since 2016. "I asked him whether he would like to join the firm and he was happy to. We used to be based in Uttarakhand and work from home, only to leave for worksites in different countries to set up oxygen plants," Arun explained their line of work.
'Was Scheduled To Visit Turkey Earlier'
Vijay, however, was not supposed to be in Turkey this time of the year. The installation of the oxygen plant in the company Turkey Kulcu Sinai Ve Tibbi Gazlar Endustr Dis. Ltd. Sti, was scheduled to be done four months ago. “The machine was ready, but there were some problems from the client’s end. I wish things had gone as per the initial plan,” Ramesh Siddappa rued.
Vijay and Arun have studied up to Class X and have been working in their field for long. “Vijay was a quiet and confident employee of our organisation who was adept with data too,” Siddappa said.
The office building of company which Vijay Kumar was servicing was also destroyed in the earthquake. “I do not want to lose hope. But deep down, I know my hopes are fading,” Siddappa rued.
The family, however, is still waiting for Vijay. "We are hopeful that someone will rescue him," his brother Arun Kumar said.