Triumph of diplomacy: Indian priest abducted in Afghanistan freed

afghan-kidnapIn a triumph of persistence and diplomacy, India has managed to rescue an Indian aid worker who was abducted by the brutal Taliban militia from Afghanistan’s Herat province.

Father Alexis Prem Kumar, a Jesuit priest from Tamil Nadu, returned home on February 22, after months in captivity.

“Delighted at securing the release of Indian Jesuit priest Father Alexis Prem Kumar from captivity in Afghanistan,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

Kumar, a resident of Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu, was kidnapped from a school for refugees in Afghanistan’s Sohadat, about 25 km from Herat. He was working with Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), an educational charity, as its Afghanistan director and had been in the violence-torn country for over three years when he was abducted by militants. Before Afghanistan, Prem Kumar had served Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu.

The priest’s kidnapping had made international headlines, with even the Vatican voicing concern.

The Jesuit priest’s release was the culmination of intense negotiations by India through National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.

The government was under pressure from relatives and friends of the priest to secure his release. Prem Kumar’s relatives had met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Mr Doval, pressing for his release.

The priest’s kidnapping is not the first time an Indian has been targeted in Afghanistan. In the past few years, the Indian embassy and consulates have been attacked many a time in the past. India has pledged over $2 billion for a host of reconstruction activities in Afghanistan ranging from building roads, bridges and roads to dozens of grassroot projects which have spawned enormous goodwill for India in that country.

 

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