New Delhi, July 11 (IANS) External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday asked her visiting Yemeni Abdulmalik Abduljalil Al-Mekhlafi to secure the safe and early release of abducted Indian priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil after being told he was still alive.
In the meeting, Al-Mekhlafi conveyed that, according to available information, Uzhunnalil was alive and the Yemen government has been making all efforts to secure his release and assured all cooperation in this regard.
According to a statement by the External Affairs Ministry, Sushma Swaraj stressed India’s concern for the safety and well-being of the priest who was abducted in March 2016 from Aden and reiterated the request for continued assistance from the Yemeni authorities in securing his safe and early release.
Uzhunnalil, who hails from Kerala, was abducted by the Islamic State terror group which attacked an old-age home run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Yemen’s port city.
In a video posted on a Yemeni news portal in May this year, he said: “They are treating me well to the extent they are able.”
“My health condition is deteriorating quickly and I require hospitalisation as early as possible,” said a frail-looking Uzhunnalil.
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.