CHENNAI/MADURAI: Giving a strong push to the demand for speedy rescue of aid worker from Tamil Nadu, Father Alexis Prem Kumar, who was abducted by suspected Taliban militia in the Herat province of Afghanistan, Chief Minister
J Jayalalithaa has sought the personal intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the matter. “I would be grateful if you could kindly intervene personally and take up the
matter at the highest level in Afghanistan so that the local authorities redouble their efforts to secure the safe and early release of Father Alexis Prem Kumar,” the Chief Minister said in her letter to Modi dated June 4.
Jayalalithaa said Prem Kumar, on a humanitarian mission to the war-torn country, was working with refugee children, when he was kidnapped. The incident has caused considerable anxiety to his family and friends in Tamil Nadu. “There is also a groundswell of sentiment in different parts of the State as Father Alexis Prem Kumar has a stellar record of having worked amongst
tribal women and children for their welfare. There is a fear that his life may be in mortal danger,” the Chief Minister pointed out.
Meanwhile, profusely thanking Jayalalithaa for taking up the issue for immediate action, Albert Manoharan, brother of the kidnapped priest, told Express that the words of the Chief Minister have come as a great solace to his distraught family members who were much worried about the safety and well-being of Prem Kumar. He said top officials from the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan spoke to him on Thursday and explained the steps being taken to rescue Prem Kumar at the earliest. At Variyanvayal in Sivaganga district, the
hometown of the priest, locals have joined his family members in offering prayers for his safe return. Special prayers were offered in the local church as well.
Father Prem Kumar, who works with global NGO Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), has also worked with tribals and Lankan refugees. He is currently the Country Head of JRS. He had completed three years of service in Afghanistan and was based in Herat province from where he was kidnapped.
The spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi has denied that Prem Kumar had any connection with the Indian government amidst local reports in Afghanistan that the aid worker was associated with the Indian mission. “He is an Indian national who was working with an NGO. He had no connection with the Indian government or mission or consulate,” said the spokesperson.
The abduction came nearly 10 days after the attack on the Indian consulate in Herat by four heavily-armed gunmen carrying rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns.