New Delhi: India’s External Affairs Minister has requested visiting Yemeni deputy prime minister to secure the early release of an abducted Indian priest.
Abdulmalik Abduljalil Al-Mekhlafi, who is also his country’s foreign minister, told Swaraj that Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil was still alive and that his government has made all efforts to secure the Catholic priest’s release.
The Yemeni politician also assured the Indian government all cooperation in this regard.
A statement from the External Affairs ministry on July 11 said Swaraj stressed India’s concern for Uzhunnalil’s safety and well-being. He was abducted on March 4, 2016, from Aden by the ISIS terror group that attacked an old-age home run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Aden, Yemen’s port city.
Father Uzhunnalil, who hails from Kerala, has since appeared in videos appealing the Pope and the Indian government to get his release.
In a video posted on a Yemeni news portal in May, he said: “They are treating me well to the extent they are able.”
“My health condition is deteriorating quickly and I require hospitalization as early as possible,” said a frail-looking Father Uzhunnalil.
Father Uzhunnalil said his kidnappers had contacted the Indian government and the Catholic bishop in Abu Dhabi with their demands, but the response was “not encouraging”.
“My dear family people, do what you can to help me be released. Please, please do what you can to help to get me released. May God bless you for that,” he said.
Meanwhile, the MEA statement also said that the visiting minister appreciated India’s steadfast support for Yemen during difficult times, including India’s humanitarian assistance.
The nation has been virtually under siege since from 2015, when a coalition of Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia attacked Shia Houthi rebels in that country who toppled the government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
India executed Operation Raahat the same year in which over 5,500 Indian nationals and citizens of other countries were evacuated.