An Indian writer and a member of the Travancore royal family is missing in Senegal and is feared to have either been abducted by a terror outfit like the Boko Haram or picked up by Senegalese security forces during an anti-terror sweep.
Sources said Shreekumar Varma, a reputed author and son of Indira Bayi, the second daughter of the late Travancore Regent Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi, has been missing for a few days now.
Senegalese security forces in Dakar have arrested more than 500 people as part of a crackdown following terrorist attacks in neighbouring Burkina Faso and Mali.
A spokesperson of Senegal’s Ministry of Justice has been quoted as saying that police operation around the cities of Dakar and Thies started last Friday and some 900 people have been questioned for a range of offences from possession of drugs to counterfeit currency to not having proper vehicle documents.
The Senegalese govt said while not directly terrorism-related, the sweep was aimed at ensuring Senegal does not fall victim to an attack like its neighbours. “Police carried out these security measures as part of an operation against the threat of terrorism,” the spokesman said.
In New Delhi, the Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the matter is “very sensitive” and the Indian Embassy in Senegal is “working on it”.
It is learnt that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has taken interest in the issue, and the MEA is getting in touch with Senegalese authorities.
Chennai-based Varma, who is 60 years old, is a playwright, newspaper columnist and poet, and is known for his novels including Lament of Mohini, Maria’s Room, Devil’s Garden: Tales Of Pappudom, and the children’s book Pazhassi Raja: The Royal Rebel.
Born in 1955 in the Satelmond Palace in Thiruvananthapuram, his parents left Kerala and settled down in Madras when he was four. He studied there and worked as a journalist, and later taught English at Madras Christian College and Chennai’s Mathematical Institute.