India on Monday said it was in regular touch with Yemeni authorities and Saudi Arabia regarding the safe release of Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was abducted nearly nine months ago from war-torn Yemen, after a video of the priest pleading for help became viral.
“You are aware of the circumstances currently prevailing in Yemen where fighting is going on with no central authority in that country.
“With regard to the safe release of Father Tom who was abducted some months ago, we have been in regular touch with countries in the region, especially Saudi Arabia as also the local Yemeni authorities. Efforts continue in this regard,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
In the video, also uploaded on Facebook, Tom was seen as pleading for help from Indian government and fellow Christians including Pope Francis. However, the veracity of the video could not be ascertained.
He also said “several months have gone by and my captors have made many contacts with the government of India to get me released. Honourable President and Prime Minister of India, I am very sad nothing has been done seriously in my regard. Reports have been in news that everything is being done to get me released quickly but in reality nothing seems to have happened.”
He further said had he been “a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously by authorities and people and (they) would have got me released. I am from India and therefore, I perhaps am not considered as of much value”.
Uzhunnalil was abducted from the port city of Aden on March 4 by militant group ISIS.