After a video started doing the rounds showing abducted Indian Christian priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil — who was earlier kidnapped in Yemen by ISIS militants — purportedly blaming the Indian government and the Vatican for alleged lack of action in securing his release, India on Monday said it was in regular touch with the Yemeni authorities and Saudi Arabia regarding the safe release of Father Tom Uzhunnalil.
The priest hails from Kerala and was abducted nearly nine months ago from war-torn Yemen. The video of him showed him pleading for help and it became viral.
“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 Father Tom, who was abducted some months ago, we have been in regular touch with countries in the region, especially Saudi Arabia as also the local Yemeni authorities. Efforts continue in this regard,” ministry of external affairs (MEA) spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
The priest purportedly said in the video that “several months have gone by and my captors have made many contacts with the government of India to get me released. Honourable President and Prime Minister of India, I am very sad that nothing has been done seriously in my regard. Reports have been in news that everything is being done to get me released quickly but in reality nothing seems to have happened.” He added had he been “a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously by authorities. I am from India and therefore, I, perhaps, am not considered as of much value”. He also referred to a kidnapped French journalist, who was released and said this had happened because the journalist was from France.
Mr Uzhunnalil was abducted from the port city of Aden in March 4 by militant group ISIS.