Minister of State (MoS) for Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) General V K Singh on Wednesday patted his ministry’s back for the safe release of Father Tom Uzhunnalil, the Indian Christian priest who was kidnapped by extremists in Yemen in March 2016. “(The) Ministry of External Affairs works quietly, without making too much noise but ultimately gets work done,” ANI quoted Singh as saying. “We know about the type of criticism that had come a couple of times when Father Tom disappeared in Yemen. I am happy that he is safe.”
Tom reached Vatican on Tuesday night. Earlier in the day, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had informed about the priest’s rescue of Twitter. In another tweet hours later, she had said: “Father Tom Uzhunnalil has reached Vatican”, she
I am happy to inform that Father Tom Uzhunnalil has been rescued.pic.twitter.com/FwAYoTkbj2
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) September 12, 2017
The 57-year-old Father Tom was abducted by Islamic State operatives when they attacked an old-age home run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in the southern Yemeni city of Aden. He was freed following the intervention of Oman’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was facilitated after Sultan of Oman Qaboos bin Said Al Said looked into the matter.
Swaraj had last month assured a delegation of priests from Bengaluru that the priest would be released soon. India had repeatedly said it was in regular touch with Yemeni and Saudi authorities regarding Tom’s release. In a video released soon after his abduction, Tom had appealed for help from the Indian government and Pope Francis. He had also complained in the video saying: “Had I been “a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously by authorities and people and (they) would have got me released. I am from India and therefore, I perhaps am not considered as of much value.”
The priest hails from Ramapuram in Kottayam district of Kerala.