Sushma Swaraj tweets to respond to ISIS-abducted Indian priest’s video appeal

December 27, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

New Delhi, December 27, 2016: In a series of tweets posted on Tuesday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj stressed that India would leave no stone unturned for the release of Indian Christian priest in the captivity of ISIS in Yemen.

The minister was responding to a video that emerged on Monday on social media of Tom Uzhunnalil, also known as Father Tom, a priest from Kerala abducted in war torn Yemen nine months ago.

Details of the video:

1. A fatigued Father Uzhunnalil in a grey sweat shirt with his grey beard and hair can be seen sitting in front of a beige and pink floral printed curtain in an unknown location in the video.

2. “I have seen the video from Fr Tom. He is an Indian citizen and the life of every Indian is most precious for us. We got Fr Alex Prem Kumar and Judith D’Souza released from Afghanistan. We have spared no effort and we will spare no effort to secure Fr Uzhunnalil’s release from captivity,” Swaraj wrote on Twitter.

3. The minister was responding to the video message where the the priest was seen making emergency appeal, saying that neither the Indian government, nor the Church or the Pope have come to his rescue. Father Uzhunnalil had been working with a church in the port city of Aden for the past few years, from where he was abducted by suspected ISIS militants on March 4 this year.

4. “Several months have gone by, my captors have made many contacts with the government of India to get me released. Hon’ble president and prime minister, I am very sad that nothing has been done seriously in my regard. Reports have been coming that everything is being done to get me released quickly but in reality, nothing seems to have happened,” says Father Uzhunnalil in the 5-minute and 6-seconds video, where he seems to be reading some script.

5. The priest claimed in the video that the abductors have established contact with the Indian government as well as Pope Francis, without providing details of their demands.

6. He adds that he is ‘very sad and depressed’ and urges fellow Christian’s and Indian bishops and priests to help him get released.

7. Father Uzhunnalil can also be seen saying that the life of an Indian priest is less valued compared to a European one.

8. He mentions the case of French reporter Norman who was kidnapped in Sana, but was eventually released, to drive home the comparison.

9. “My dear fellow Christian people, I as a priest worked in Yemen and have been kidnapped and nothing has been done by Pope Francis or by Bishop of Abu Dhabi to get me released, in spite of contacts being made by my captors. I am sad that this is the situation. If I was a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously by authorities and people would have got me released,” says the priest towards the end of the video message.

10. The Indian government, however, stressed that efforts for his release are ongoing. Responding to the video, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said on Monday, “You are aware of the circumstances currently prevailing in Yemen where fighting is going on with no central authority in that country. With regard to the safe release of the priest, who was abducted some months ago, we have been in regular touch with countries in the region, especially Saudi Arabia and also the local Yemeni authorities.”

– india today

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