iconimg Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, June 04, 2014
A day after Indian Jesuit priest Alexis Prem Kumar was abducted from Herat province of Afghanistan, his family has pleaded for the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government to intervene and secure his safe release.
 
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj met foreign secretary Sujatha Singh and other officials on Tuesday to review the situation and also discussed the frequent attacks on Indian interests in Afghanistan. “The incident is being tracked very closely,” an official said.
 
So far, no group has come forward to claim responsibility for the kidnapping but details have emerged on how the abduction was carried out. Kumar, 47, is the Afghan director of Jesuit Refugee Service -- an NGO that works with Afghan refugee kids. He had been working there for the past three years and was visiting a school for refugee kids on the day he was abducted from Sohadat village, 24 km outside Herat.

Deputy provincial police chief Mohammad Nadir Fahimi said six gunmen had abducted Kumar without using any force and may have taken him to Gulran district. He said authorities were working with district elders to mediate his release.

“We are trying to get him back safely,” said provincial governor Fazelullah Wahidi.

“Since this was the only Indian charity in the region, whoever planned the kidnapping had a fair idea about the target,” said a source.
 
The priest’s 77-year-old father Anthony, a retired teacher, told PTI that Kumar went to Herat in 2011 to do social work and help poor people.
 
“He came home in February and left for Afghanistan in March. He used to talk to us frequently over the phone and always said that there was no problem from militants,” said Anthony. “I request the government to take necessary steps immediately to rescue my son from the militants,” he added. The abduction comes just days after heavily-armed gunmen had tried to storm the Indian Consulate in Herat.

 (With PTI inputs)