Indian aid worker Father Alexis Prem Kumar, who was abducted by the Taliban from Afghanistan's Herat province, returned home on Sunday, ending a year-long wait and marking another chapter of diplomatic victory for the central government.
The Jesuit priest's release - which came seven months after the government freed Indian nurses trapped in Iraq - is believed to be the outcome of national security advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval's long negotiations in Afghanistan.
"Delighted at securing the release of Indian Jesuit priest Father Alexis Prem Kumar from captivity in Afghanistan," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.
Have spoken to Father Alexis Prem Kumar. Informed happy family of Father Alexis Prem Kumar of his safe return after 8 months in captivity.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 22, 2015
Prem Kumar, a native of Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu, was abducted from a school for refugees in Afghanistan's Sohadat, about 25km from Herat. He was working with Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), an educational charity, as its Afghanistan director and had been in the war-torn country for over three years when he was kidnapped.
Before moving to Afghanistan, Prem Kumar had served Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu on a JRS assignment.
His abduction had drawn widespread attention and even the Vatican had expressed concern.
Prem Kumar's relatives had met external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and NSA Doval, requesting the government to secure his release. His family members had also petitioned the Sivaganga district collector.
Father Prem Kumar was in constant touch with his family in India from Afghanistan through Skype network.