Kidnapped Indian priest released
NEW DELHI (Pajhwok): After hectic efforts, Prime Minister Narendra Modi succeeded to ensure release of a senior Jesuit Indian priest abducted by Taliban in western Herat, media reports.
Father Alexis Prem Kumar, who hails from Tamil Nadu's Sivaganga district, had served as country director of international NGO Jesuit Refugee Service in Afghanistan for four years before he was abducted on June 2, 2014.
Announcing the release, Modi tweeted: "Delighted at securing the release of Indian Jesuit priest Father Alexis Prem Kumar from captivity in Afghanistan. Have spoken to Father Alexis Prem Kumar."
The priest has returned to India and will be reunited with his family, which had approached the Modi government last year to secure his release. Father Alexis has thanked the Modi government for negotiating his freedom.
Father Alexis's release is a culmination of the Centre's long-drawn diplomatic efforts, personally supervised by national security adviser Ajit Kumar Doval, to carry out Modi's written assurance to AIADMK chief J Jayalalitha and MDMK leader Vaiko that his government would spare no effort to have him freed by constantly engaging Afghanistan on that score.
Both Jayalalitha and Vaiko had separately sought the PM's "personal intervention to secure the safe and early release" of Father Alexis.
Incidentally, the Modi government negotiated the release of Father Alexis notwithstanding the fact that he had gone to Afghanistan on his own to pursue philanthropic causes.
Having moved to Afghanistan four years ago, he was abducted on June 2, 2014 by six Taliban gunmen in Zenda Jan district, Herat, while returning from a JRS-sponsored school for refugees in Sohadat village.
In a statement welcoming his release, the MEA spokesperson said, "The matter of his release has been pursued by our leadership, including at the highest level."
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