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No ransom paid to Father Tom Uzhunnalil’s abductors, says VK Singh

The Ministry of External Affairs today said that sincere and ‘silent’ efforts by the Ministry has yielded result in securing the release of Kerala priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil from the captivity of militants in Yemen.

Reported by: PTI, Thiruvananthapuram [ Published on: September 13, 2017 16:25 IST ]
Union Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh
Union Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh

The Ministry of External Affairs today said that sincere and ‘silent’ efforts by the Ministry has yielded result in securing the release of Kerala priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil from the captivity of militants in Yemen. Union Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh told reporters that government had paid no ransom amount to abductors for the release of the priest.

"Release of Father Uzhunnalil yesterday underlines one thing that the Ministry of External Affairs works quietly and without noise, but ultimately gets the work done,"  Gen (retd) VK Singh said.

The Union Minister said that the government was very happy that he has come back safely. He also expressed hope that people will appreciate the Narendra Modi government.

On the role played by Oman, Singh said that various methods were adopted to tackle a problem. He said that if a direct method failed to yield results, indirect methods are adopted and the aim is to get the problem solved.

The Keralite priest was abducted by Islamic State terrorists during a deadly attack on a care home in the port city of Aden in war-ravaged Yemen on March 6, 2016. At least 15 people at the old-age home were killed in the attack.

Asked whether Uzhunnanlil contacted any Indian officials to thank the government following his release, Singh said that he was quite sure that he will do it after he gets back from the Vatican. 

It was for the priest to decide when he would come to India, Singh said responding to a question. 

A video of Uzhunnalil had surfaced in December last year in which he appealed to the government to free him. In the clip, Uzhunnalil was seen saying, "If I were a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously. I'm from India. I'm perhaps not considered of much value."

In July, Union Minister Sushma Swaraj had taken up the the issue of Uzhunnalil's abduction with the Deputy Prime Minister of Yemen and requested him to secure the release of the priest. Last year, Swaraj had said Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has spoken to various countries so that the priest could be released. 

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