Priest's release: Father Alexis' family extremely elated, relieved

  • KV Lakshmana, Hindustan Times, Chennai
  • Updated: Feb 22, 2015 21:50 IST

“It is a government that works, and that too on Sundays,” an extremely elated brother of Father Alexis Prem Kumar, John Jospeh, told Hindustan Times after the news of his brother’s release was broken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Mr Modi personally called up my father, AS Antony, and told him about my brother’s release and his subsequent arrival in the evening to India," Joseph told Hindustan Times. It is a very good job the government has done," he said in a voice chocking with emotion.

“As per the information given to our family, my brother is arriving in Delhi around 6:15pm. Me and my father are going to Delhi to receive him. Of course our entirely family is indebted to the Prime Minister and the entire government and would consider it an honour to be able to personally meet and thank him. But whether it is possible at all, we would know only when we reach Delhi,” he said over phone.

“Every time my phone rings, am hoping to hear the news of the rescue and return of my brother,” his brother Albert Manoharan told Hindustan Times earlier. “Ever since that fateful day when we heard the sad news of abduction of my brother by gunmen in Afghanistan in June last year, we are extremely anxious but at the same time hopeful of his return,” Manoharan said.

“All we know is that my brother is safe. Where he is, how he is, we have no idea,” Manoharan had earlier said. “I speak to officials of MEA in Delhi once every week. We are given assurance that brother is safe and efforts were on to bring him back safely.”

“Yes the Indian government is doing all it can and we are satisfied with the help and assistance they are giving,” Manoharan said. “On this count, we have no complaints. Our only appeal is that his return be secured at the earliest,” he said.

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.

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