The All India Catholic Union (AICU), the largest lay Catholic organization in India, is calling on Prime minister Narendra Modi to use his influence and that of his government to negotiate with the countries of the Middle East free Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, kidnapped in Yemen on March 4, 2016.
In the letter, signed by the President, Lancy Da Cunha, Catholics
express the anguish of the Christian community over the long months of
imprisonment undergone by the Salesian priest, in the hands of jihadi
militants linked to the Islamic State. Cunha says: "We ask for your
personal intervention and assistance to ensure that he will return home
as soon as possible and in complete safety. We hope and pray that you
will support us".
Since last March Fr. Tom, a native of Kerala, has been in the hands
of an Islamic group that attacked a rest home for sick and elderly of
the Missionaries of Charity in Aden, in southern Yemen. In the attack four sisters of Mother Teresa and 12 other people present in the building were massacred. After months of silence, at the end of December a video was posted online in which the priest gave his personal details and stated he needed "urgent medical care".
The lay association recognizes that "the surroundings are much more
complex than other cases of kidnapping of Indians in Afghanistan. We
appreciate the efforts made by the Government and others to the release
Jesuit Father Alexis Premkumar, kidnapped in Afghanistan and released
eight months later. Even Judith D'Souza, the Indian Catholic volunteer
kidnapped in the same country, sometime later "was released.
According to Catholics, "given the difficult situation in the region,
we believe that the Government of India, with its enormous capacity of
influence and good relations in many Middle Eastern countries, is best
placed to ensure effective intervention for the release of Fr. Tom from
his captivity. "
"We call - says the chairman in conclusion - to her and to his
colleagues of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to take all necessary
measures to ensure his safety and freedom."