The government will spare no effort to free an Indian Catholic priest abducted by the Islamic State from Yemen in March, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Tuesday, after his emotional video appeal went viral on social media.
In a series of tweets, Swaraj said she had seen the video where Father Thomas Uzhunnalil looked haggard, spoke haltingly in English and accused the Pope and Indian government of doing little to secure his release.
“He is an Indian citizen and the life of every Indian is most precious for us. We got Fr Alex Prem Kumar and Judith D’Souza released from Afghanistan,” she posted on Twitter.
“We have spared no effort and we will spare no effort to secure Fr Tom’s release from captivity.”
Uzhunnalil belongs to Ramapuram village in Kerala’s Kottayam district.
On Monday, the 55-year-old Uzhunnalil had appealed in a five-minute video to get him out of the confinement.
“If I were a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously by authorities and people and (they) would have got me released. I am from India and therefore, I perhaps am not considered as of much value. I am sad about this,” he was seen as saying.
The video was posted on YouTube and aired by news channels in his home state of Kerala, and caught the attention of authorities, including ministry of external affairs spokesperson Vijay Swaroop and Swaraj.
The priest was abducted when IS fighters stormed an old people’s home in the port city of Aden on March 4 and gunned down 16 people, including an Indian nun.
This is the second video featuring Father Uzhunnalil to be posted on social media. The first one had emerged in July.
Uzhunnalil said he was kidnapped “because he was working for the Christian religion”. He also said his captors had made several contacts with the Indian government, and accused that “...nothing has been done seriously in my regard.”
India said it was in regular touch with Yemeni authorities and Saudi Arabia regarding the safe release of Father Uzhunnalil.