Union Minister Hopeful of Safe Return of Priest
CHENNAI: Union Minister for Heavy Industries Pon Radhakrishnan on Saturday said efforts to rescue Father Alexis Prem Kumar, who was abducted by militants in Afghanistan, had been taken by the Central government and expressed confidence that he would come back to India safely.
“I have spoken to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and also written a letter. It is a very unfortunate incident. We are trying to secure his release. I am hopeful he will come back to India safely,” the Union minister told mediapersons at the airport here. Prem Kumar was kidnapped from Herat province in Afghanistan and the Afghanistan government had conveyed to India that it had concrete leads in the case.
On the Cauvery water dispute, the minister said, “all steps will be taken to get Tamil Nadu’s due share of water from Karnataka. I am confident that the Central government will do justice to Tamil Nadu by maintaining neutrality in this issue.”
Later, BJP cadre and functionaries gave Radhakrishnan a rousing reception when he visited the party office Kamalalayam for the first time after recently taking charge as a Union minister.
Responding to a query, the BJP leader said there was no difference of opinion among the allies of the party in Tamil Nadu. “Some forces are trying to create a rift, but it won’t succeed,” he added.
On the fishermen’s issue, Radhakrishnan said, neither the BJP nor the Centre would tolerate the harassment of fishermen by Lankan Navy and recalled the steps it took for release of 33 fishermen even before the Sri Lankan President arrived in Delhi for the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He said institutions like Hindustan Photo Films Manufacturing Company Limited at Nilgiris would be revived. On the memorandum submitted by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa to the Prime Minister, Radhakrishnan said the Prime Minister was keen on overall development of the country, including Tamil Nadu.