His friends and well-wishers in Afghanistan were busy collecting money to secure his release from his abductors. With no help coming from the Indian mission in Kabul or the Italian company that recruited Simon Padmanaban,those from Tamil Nadu working with him in Afghanistan,believed that this was their best chance of getting him released. They were late.
Simon died in captivity,informed the Afghan authorities,shattering the hopes of a family eagerly waiting his safe return since last October.
Simon alias Vasu,a 38-year-old chef hailing from Villupuram district,had gone to Herat in Afghanistan over a year ago to work for Ciano International that supplys food materials to the Italian contingent of the multinational force that has been deployed there. Simon had earlier worked in the Gulf region for nearly seven years,and had decided to go to Afghanistan to earn better income and ensure a good future for his children.
The switch was successful as Simon was able to secure a job that paid nearly Rs 20,000 per month,about four times what he earned in Muscat,where he had worked for seven years.
Life was flowing smoothly for the family till they learnt that Simon had been kidnapped by militants in Afghanistan on October 13. The militants demanded a ransom of $1,50,000 for his release. Reports said that at least four more workers of the company were also kidnapped.
Simons brother Subramaniam,who is also working in Afghanistan,was informed by the Indian officials in Kabul about the incident. Subramaniam received three calls from the kidnappers on November 27,December 12,and December 15; the last call warned him that his brother Simon would be killed if the ransom amount was not arranged within the next five days.
We waited for long,hoping that the Indian Government or Simons employers would do something to save his life,as they know that the money was too big for anyone to afford. But that didnt happen. Then some Tamils who were working in the region suggested that they would raise whatever little money they could to pay the ransom, said Kuppusamy,a relative from Villupuram.
However,Subramaniam was soon informed by the Indian mission in Kabul that Simon had died,though the exact cause of his death is not yet known. His body hasnt been recovered.
Simons wife Vasanti earns little working in the fields in Brahmakundam in Sankarapuram taluk,Villupuram. His children Nirmala (10) and Ajit (8),for whom he had ventured into the minefield in Afghanistan face an uncertain future.