New Delhi: Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was recently freed after being abducted by militants 18 months ago, has finally reached India.
Union minister of state for tourism Alphons Kannanthanam received Uzhunnalil upon his arrival at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, at 7.40 am Thursday.
"Very happy, thank almighty for making this day possible. I am grateful to all those people who have worked in their own ways," Uzhunnalil said.
He also met prime minister Narendra Modi and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and thanked them for their support.
"The PM was happy that I am freed. He said 'take care of your health now'," Fr Uzhunnalil told reporters during a press meet later in the day.
A Catholic priest from Kerala, he was abducted by terrorists in Aden in March last year, and was rescued from captivity from an undisclosed location in Yemen earlier this month, with the intervention of the Oman government.
Uzhannalil is an employee of the Vatican, which had been engaged in talks with various quarters for his release. The Oman government took the lead in getting him released after a papal representative visited Oman and had an audience with the King of that country.
Uzhunnalil, who hails from Ramapuram in Kottayam, had been spending the past few days in Vatican. After visiting the Vatican embassy, Uzhunnalil will address a press meet at 4.30 pm.
He will then fly down to Bengaluru, where he will spend two days before leaving for Kochi. On October 1, he will arrive in Kochi and will head for his hometown in Kottayam district. His village is planning a grand welcome for him.
(With inputs from agencies)