Father Tom Uzhunnalil, the Catholic priest from Kerala who was kidnapped by the Islamic State group in Yemen in March this year, on Monday shared a video in which he is seen appealing to Pope Francis and the government of India to secure his release. In the clip, which was aired by a news channel in Kerala, Uzhunnalil said, “If I were a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously. I am from India. I am perhaps not considered of much value.”
He alleged that neither the president nor the prime minister had taken any steps even after his abductors had contacted the Centre a number of times. “Dear people, I pray to you all, ask you all, beg to you all to do your best to help save my life. I need hospitalisation soon. Please come to my help quickly,” he said in the video, which was uploaded on YouTube and Facebook. However, it could not be ascertained when the video was shot, PTI reported.
After news of the video surfaced, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement that they had been in regular touch with the countries concerned. “Our efforts continue in this regard,” the ministry said, according to ANI. In April, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj had said she had assured a delegation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India that the Salesian priest was safe.
The priest was abducted on March 4 during a raid on a nursing home run by Saint Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. At least 16 people had been killed in the incident.