NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday assured a Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) delegation that abducted Salesian Order priest Father Thomas Uzhunnallil is safe and all efforts are being taken to free him, a statement said.
"Sushma Swaraj has categorically assured the delegation that Fr. Tom Uzhunnallil is safe and that the government is adopting all possible means for the quick and safe release of Father Tom," said a CBCI statement.
However, she did not reveal the finer details of the negotiations and the technicalities involved in securing the release of the Indian priest, abducted by the IS in Yemen, as it may jeopardise the entire process.
"The minister also said that the wild rumours being spread about any harm done to Fr. Tom, are totally baseless," the statement said, thus quashing the rumours that Uzhunnallil was crucified by the IS terrorists on Good Friday.
The minister also told the delegation, led by CBCI deputy secretary general Joseph Chinnayyan, of the strenuous efforts being undertaken by the ministry and her personally to obtain the safe passage of the only surviving nun, sister Rema.
On March 4, the priest from Kerala was kidnapped after IS terrorists barged into a Missionaries of Charity care home in Aden for which he is the caretaker and shot dead many people, including four nuns, one of them from India.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Archbishop of Bengaluru, Father Bernard Moras, has called upon the general public in Bengaluru to join for a three-hour prayer vigil for Uzhunnalil to observe the completion of a month of his abduction.