An Indian national who had been abducted in Afghanistan on October 13 last year has died in the custody of his kidnappers.
Simon Paramanathan, 39, worked with an Italian food company in Herat province. Indian officials said it was not clear if the Taliban or some other armed group had kidnapped Paramanathan. The exact cause of his death — if he was murdered or died due to some other reason — is still not clear as his body has not been found yet.
His abductors had demanded for a ransom of $150,000. Paramanathan is survived by his wife Vasanthi and children — Nirmala, 10, and Ajith, 8. The family hails from Brahmakundam in Tamil Nadu’s Villiupuram district, about 225 km south of Chennai.
A family friend told HT over the phone from Kabul that Indian embassy officials there had told them that the abductors had said they won’t release Paramanathan’s body unless Afghan authorities freed one of the Taliban’s men.
“It is a very painful situation for us here for we are not even sure whether we will get to see his body,” his friend said over the phone.
Paramanathan is the third Indian to have been abducted in Afghanistan in as many years. M.R. Kutty and K. Suryanarayanan, the other two, were both killed by their abductors.
Paramathan’s abductors had identified themselves as members of a group called ‘Mujahideen’. He had gone to Afghanistan around a year back and he, along with two others, were abducted while delivering food at the International Security Assistance Force camp at Bagram air base.
“We have been informed by officials in Afghanistan that my husband was murdered yesterday (Sunday) night. Simon’s employers kept on delaying the negotiation process and now he is dead,” Vasanti told IANS.
She added that her husband, who converted to Christianity when they were married, was murdered on two counts — the first being the non-payment of ransom and the second, because he was a Christian.
“I was asked to come to the embassy in the morning. I went there thinking I will get the ransom money. But when I went there, they told me that he (Simon) fell ill and died,” Paramanathan’s brother Subramanyam, who works in Kabul told PTI.