For three months now, information technology engineer Irfan Jaffrey, 32, has been held hostage by a group of armed men in Darfur, Sudan. He is being tortured and his life is under threat, his family has alleged. There is no word of when he might be released.
An employee of a multinational firm, Jaffrey was posted in the North African country more than four years ago. He was robbed, beaten and abducted on March 11 outside a restaurant where he’d gone for dinner with a colleague. His abductors have demanded a ransom of Rs 32 lakh.
“We are in touch with the family, the United Nations and others; are doing our best to deal with the case,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told HT on Tuesday.
Jaffrey’s employer, Trigyn Technologies Ltd, does information and communications technology-related work at UN missions across the world, so the UN is involved in negotiations with the abductors. The UN has a policy of not paying ransom.
After waiting three months, Jaffrey’s family — willing to pay — can barely endure the ordeal. “A day after the kidnapping, Trigyn reportedly got a call from the abductors demanding Rs. 32 lakh. We were told the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is handling the case and their policy was not to pay ransom.
"We were willing to pay but were told to wait. It’s close to three months now,” said Shakil Ahmed, 45, Jaffrey’s uncle.
Ahmed said he has been in touch with the MEA, the Indian envoy in Sudan and with Trigyn.
The abductors have allowed Jaffrey to call his family four to five times. “Irfan is being tortured, he is in danger and he is in a horrible state. He was assaulted brutally once and they threatened to kill him,” said his wife Nafisa, 30, who lives with their seven-year-old son and his parents in Dombivli.
Parthasarathy Iyengar, head, legal and administration, Trigyn, said, “The UN is taking the lead on management of Irfan’s case, with concurrence from the Indian government and support from the Sudanese government to ensure his safe release.