Rescued Catholic priest arrives in Kerala

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Kochi, Oct 1 (IANS) Kerala Catholic priest Tom Uzhunnallil, who was rescued last month from an undisclosed location in Yemen, arrived here on Sunday.

He was given a rousing welcome by his family, church and top political leaders from the Congress-led opposition upon his arrival at the airport at 7 a.m. from Bengaluru.

However, no state government members were present.

“Thanks to all who was with me and may God bless all people. Returning to one’s home is the best feeling anyone can have and I too have the same feelings,” Uzhunnallil said.

Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala accompanied by half a dozen of Congress legislators said that it was highly improper that there was no one from the state government.

“The least that could have happened was a state minister should have been present. I wish this wrong will be corrected,” said Chennithala.

Kottayam Lok Sabha member Jose K.Mani and P.C. Thomas, former five-time Lok Sabha member and former union minister of state and Kerala Congress leader, were also present.

From the airport, Uzhunnallil drove to the Don Bosco House and participated in the prayers at the St Mary’s Basilica convent and visited the Archbishop’s House.

Later in the day, he will arrive at his hometown of Ramapuram near Pala in Kottayam district.

After calling on the Pala bishop, in the evening will take part in a special thanksgiving mass at his home parish in Ramapuram and also attend a civic reception.

After he was released and brought to Oman on September 12, he flew to the Vatican where he met Pope Francis.

Uzhunnallil arrived in Delhi on September 28 and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

He is scheduled to call upon Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.

The priest was associated with the Missionaries of Charity, which was running an old age home in Aden, when he was abducted by terrorists last March. Despite the best of diplomatic efforts his release could not be obtained.

–IANS

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