After a video of Kerala priest Tom George Uzhunnalil who was abducted by ISIS in March from an old age home in Yemen surfaced on Monday, CPI (M) has taken the opportunity to hit out at the central government.
Calling out the “lukewarm attitude” of the central government, CPI (M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan urged the Centre to take immediate steps to get Father Tom released.
Kodiyeri said that the central government had the responsibility of revealing to the public, the efforts taken in the past 10 months to get the priest released from his captors.
“If the video is to be believed, it shows the failure of the Narendra Modi government,” Kodiyeri said.
In a series of tweets on Tuesday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj assured that being an Indian citizen, Father Tom's live is "precious." Pointing out that the central government had been successful in getting Father Alex Prem Kumar and Judith D'Souza released from Afghanistan, Swaraj said that "the government will spare no effort to secure Fr Tom's release from captivity."
I have seen the video from Fr Tom. He is an Indian citizen and the life of every Indian is most precious for us. /1— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) December 27, 2016
We got Fr Alex Prem Kumar and Judith D'Souza released from Afghanistan. /2— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) December 27, 2016
We have spared no effort and we will spare no effort to secure Fr Tom's release from captivity. /3— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) December 27, 2016
In the five-minute video, the priest is seen begging for help for his release. He appealed to the Government of India, the President and the Prime Minister as well as Pope to take efforts to save him.
“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 that nothing has been done seriously in my regard. Reports have been in the news that everything is being done to get me released quickly. But in reality, nothing seems to have happened,” Father Tom says.
Father Tom even expresses anguish asking if whether being an Indian priest has affected the response from officials.
“I am from India, and perhaps I am not considered of as much value," he says.
Meanwhile, Kerala Catholic Bishop Council (KCBC) has also demanded serious intervention by the Centre in the matter.
“The Centre had made efforts initially. However, over the past few months, it is unclear whether the Centre needs to do something more to get the priest released. This is a matter where the government is the entity that should take initiative,” Director of KCBC, Father Varghese Vallikkat said in a press release.