Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was rescued on September 12 from Yemen, landed in New Delhi today. After his release he had spent some time in the Vatican before leaving for India. He also met the Pope and narrated all that had happened to him during his abduction.
The priest, who hails from Kerala, on landing, expressed his gratefulness towards all the people who worked in their own ways for making his rescue possible.
After landing, he first went to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi , following which he will fly to Bengaluru to spend a few days with the Salesians Congregation, to which he belongs, and will attend a bishops’ conference and share his experience with them.
Delhi: Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was rescued from ISIS captivity meets PM Modipic.twitter.com/aKleRHsn9H
— ANI (@ANI) September 28, 2017
Fr Uzhunnalil will arrive in Kochi on October 1 and will head for his hometown at Ramapuram in Kottayam district. The priest's village is planning a grand welcome for him. Thereafter, Fr Uzhunnalil will travel to the state capital to meet Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.
Father Uzhunnalil was abducted in March last year by Islamic State terrorists after they attacked the care home run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. At least 15 people at the old-age home were killed in the attack.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the release of Uzhunnalil was heartening. "The intervention of Oman had paved the way for his release, I understand," he said in a Facebook post. All help will be provided to enable him reach Kerala and for his further treatment, he added.
Catholic Bishops Conference of India President and Major Archbishop of Syro Malankara church Baselious Cardinal Cleemis Catholicos and Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, CBCI Secretary General said the church was grateful to the government of India and all concerned for the steps taken to secure his release.
A video of Uzhunnalil had surfaced in December last year in which he appealed to the government to free him. In the clip, Uzhunnalil was seen saying, "If I were a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously. I am from India. I am perhaps not considered of much value."
In July, Swaraj had taken up the issue of Uzhunnalil’s abduction with the Deputy Prime Minister of Yemen and requested him to secure the release of the priest.
With PTI inputs