December 26, 2016: Father Tom Uzhunnalil, a priest from India, was seen begging for life in a video that was uploaded on social media today. Father Uzhunnalil was abducted from Yemen. In the video, the priest appeared very weak and had to gasp for breath in the 5.06 minutes video. He is appealing to Pope Francis and Indian government to secure his release.
Father Uzhunnalil was abducted by ISIS militants in March this year.
The authenticity of the video could not be independently verified. However, Augustine Mathew, a cousin of the priest who is also the General Secretary of Uzhunnalil Family Association, said, “Father is clearly shown in the video. He appears to be very weak and is gasping for breath while talking. He needs immediate medical care.”
The 59-year-old priest depressed knowing that proper efforts were not made to save him. He thinks that because he is an Indian priest, he is not considered as of much value. He believes that had he been a European priest, his kidnapping would have taken more seriously.
In the video, he said, “Dear Pope Francis, dear Holy Father, as a father, please take care of my life. I am very much depressed. My health is deteriorating.”
In the video, he has claimed that his captors had made contacts with the Indian government.
— Vijayesh Lal (@vijayeshl) December 26, 2016
“I am very sad that nothing has been done seriously in my regard,” he said. “Reports have been there in the news that everything is being done to release me quickly. But in reality, nothing seems to have happened. I am very sad and depressed. I request also my fellow Christians in India, the Bishops and priests, to do their might to help me to get released and save my life,” he added.
Father Uzhunnalil also mentioned about a French reporter who was abducted from the Middle East. He was later released. He said, “I am from India and not considered. Dear people, I pray you all, ask you all, beg you all to do your might to help me to save my life. I need hospitalization soon. Please come to my help quickly.”
According to the Times of India, after the video was aired on television, the relatives of the priest assembled at his ancestral house.
Shajan Thomas, a cousin of Uzhunnalil, said that one of their cousins from Abu Dhabi sent the video on Monday through WhatsApp.
The situation is difficult in Yemen right now because of the absence of a central authority in the country.
“With regard to the safe release of Father Tom who was abducted some months ago, we have been in regular touch with countries in the region, especially Saudi Arabia as also the local Yemeni authorities. Efforts continue in this regard,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
– Prepared by Diksha Arya of NewsGram. Twitter: @diksha_arya53