External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told a Church delegation Saturday that Christian priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was reportedly abducted by the Islamic State in Yemen, is safe. She also said the government was adopting all possible means for his quick and safe release.
The minister said that the “wild rumors being spread about any harm done” to the priest were “totally baseless”.
The Church delegation, which met Swaraj on Saturday afternoon, expressed “deep concern and distress” over the fate of Uzhunnalil, whose whereabouts are not known even 29 days after his abduction. There have been some unconfirmed reports he was killed by militants.
Uzhunnalil, a Salesian priest, was kidnapped in Yemen on March 4 during a raid on a nursing home run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, the Washington Times reported.
“Swaraj has categorically assured the delegation that Uzhunnalil is safe and that the government is adopting all possible means for his quick and safe release. The Honorable Minister further said that the details of the negotiations and the technicalities involved with the negotiations cannot be divulged now, as it would endanger the process of the release,” a statement from the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), the apex body of the Catholic church, said.
The press note issued by Monsignor Joseph Chinnayyan, deputy secretary general, CBCI said Swaraj shared with the delegation “the strenuous effort taken by the External Affairs Ministry, and personally by her, to procure a safe passage for Sister Rema, the only surviving nun from the terrorist attack in Yemen.”