Kottayam: Four months after he was abducted by terrorists in Yemen, a picture of Keralite priest Fr Tom Uzhunnalil surfaced on his Facebook page on Tuesday. The person who posted the image claimed that he is the Catholic priest's 'Yemeni friend,' and responded to messages from Fr Tom's friends on Facebook with a video he said to have found on Twitter.
The video, which was re-posted on Facebook by Pravachaka Sabdam, shows a blindfolded man being assaulted by some men.
Apparently, the 'friend' alleged that claims by the authorities about the priest's safety do not hold water and that the father is being mistreated by his abductors.
In the photograph, the Salesian priest looks weak and skinny with a full grown beard and a gray mop of hair. 'An entreaty seeking his release will be uploaded soon,' the caption of the photo reads thus.
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The Yemeni claimed that the priest had assigned him to post on his social media account to reveal the truth about his abduction and to seek help. Though there has been no official confirmation that the person shown in the video and photo is Fr Tom, his relatives have confirmed that it's him in the photograph.
However, the Salesian Church authorities said they are yet to confirm the authenticity of the image, Manorama News reported Wednesday. The church authorities are also seeking Vatican's help for the release of the priest. Discussions will be held through the vicariate of Saudi Arabia, the report said.
It is believed that the abductors hacked Fr Tom's Facebook account and posted his picture, tagging his friends. Two weeks ago, the relatives of Fr Tom had received a photo of the priest blindfolded.
According to his relatives, they have been told that the priest is still in Yemen, but the place where he is housed has not been identified yet. The central government also seems to be unable to conduct further probe into the case as the Indian Embassy in Yemen is not functioning.
On March 4, armed militants barged into an old age home in Eden, set up by the Missionaries of Charity in 1992, and killed many including four nuns out of which one was Indian. The militants abducted Fr Tom, a native of Kottayam, and there was no word from him until May when an Indian government official said that he was 'safe in Yemen'.