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India sends strong message

India has asserted that it will "never bow before such acts of terror" and asked the international community to join hands in defeating it.

india Updated: May 01, 2006 14:23 IST

Outraged by the "brutal murder" of Indian engineer K Suryanarayana by the Taliban in Afghanistan, India on Sunday asserted that it would "never bow before such acts of terror" and asked the international community to join hands in defeating it.

In a strong message to "the Taliban and its sponsors", New Delhi made it clear that it will leave no stone unturned in bringing perpetrators of such "dastardly acts of terror" to justice and continue to extend assistance for the reconstruction of the war-torn country.

"The government and people of India will never bow to such acts of terrorism and will continue their fraternal assistance to the people of Afghanistan in their endeavours to bring peace, stability and economic recovery to their country ravaged by years of conflict," Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran told reporters here.

The government confirmed that Suryanarayana was killed in Zabul province even as an Indian official team reached Kabul Sunday morning to negotiate his release with the Taliban.

The Taliban killed Suryanarayana before their 24-hour deadline was to end at 6 pm onSunday. The militia had demanded the withdrawal of Indian workers from Afghanistan in return for his release. Suryanarayana was abducted on Friday from Zabul on the Kabul-Kandahar road. The 41-year-old telecom engineer was working for a Bahrain-based cellular company, Roshan.

Afghan authorities also confirmed that they had found the body of Suryanarayana, hours after he was executed in Zabul province.

The body of the slain engineer will be brought back and sent to his family in Hyderabad on Monday.

"The government of India is appalled by this dastardly and inhuman act of terror on the part of the Taliban and its sponsors, which has resulted in the tragic and untimely death of an innocent Indian citizen, who, like many of our other compatriots, had been making a contribution to Afghanistan's reconstruction with dedication and diligence," Saran said in a statement he read out to reporters Sunday afternoon.

Saran underlined the political nature of the killing, saying that the kidnappers had "premeditated" the killing in a bid to intimidate Indian workers engaged in a slew of reconstruction projects there into leaving the country.

"It is obvious that the kidnappers were not interested in negotiating for his release but had premeditated his killing," Saran told reporters.

"The outrageous demand that all Indians should leave Afghanistan within 24 hours testifies to the real motivation behind this act of terror," he stressed.

Saran, however, was cautious about pointing any finger at Pakistan for the kidnapping despite the fact that Islamabad is widely considered as the progenitor of the Taliban.

Instead, he asked Pakistan to join the international community in fighting the scourge of Taliban. "The Taliban elements have been operating in the area that straddles the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Within Pakistan, they are carrying out acts against terror," Saran said in response to a question on Pakistan's alleged role in anti-India terror attacks in Afghanistan.

"There is zero tolerance for terror. This underscores the need for the international community, including India and Pakistan, to join hands and defeat terror," he said.

"The government of India regards Taliban a terrorist organisation and calls upon the international community to recognise its true colours and join hands together to defeat this scourge to humanity," Saran said in a statement.

Suryanarayana's kidnapping and killing has put the spotlight on the safety and security of nearly 2,000 Indians who are working on infrastructure projects in Afghanistan.

The government on Sunday assured that security measures for Indian workers would be "further reviewed and strengthened". A team from the external affairs ministry, comprising Joint Secretary KBS Katoch and hostage crisis experts who had gone to help rescue the Indian engineer, had been asked to make further recommendations to enhance security for Indian workers.

India has pledged $650 million for the reconstruction of Afghanistan and a number of Indian firms are engaged in reconstruction activities in the country.

The government also expressed "grief and a sense of loss" at the "unfortunate death" of the Indian engineer and expressed solidarity with his family.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday conveyed his grief to the family of Suryanarayana and assured all help to his family. "We will ensure that his family is taken care of," Sanjaya Baru, media advisor to the prime minister, quoted him as saying.

Baru said that Manmohan Singh has "severely condemned" the act of terrorism and urged the country to remain united against terrorism.

This is the third such incident in which the Taliban has targeted an Indian.

Nearly five months ago, Ramankutty Maniappan, an engineer with the Indian Border Roads Organisation (BRO), was kidnapped and beheaded by the Taliban to intimidate Indian workers into leaving Afghanistan.

Two months ago, Bharat Kumar, an Indian engineer working for the Louis Berger group that had sub-contracted the construction of the Kandahar-Herat highway to a Turkish construction company, was killed in an explosion in Farah province.

First Published: Apr 30, 2006 15:50 IST