New Delhi: Minister of state for external affairs M.J. Akbar Wednesday said that the central government had instructed Kerala priest Fr Tom Uzhunnalil, who was kidnapped by terrorists in Yemen, to not go to that country.
“Fr Uzhunnalil went to Yemen ignoring the government's instructions. We are yet to find out where he is and the efforts to rescue him are continuing,” Akbar told media.
“He might not have noticed our efforts to save him and that could have made him criticize the government,” the minister added.
In a video uploaded online recently, Fr Uzhunnalil appealed to Pope Francis and the union government to secure his release from his captors.
"If I were a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously. I am from India. I am perhaps not considered as of much value," he said in a weak voice in the video.
"I am very sad that nothing has been done seriously in my regard," he said.
“Reports say everything has been done, but in reality, nothing has been done,” the priest said in the video.
A day after the video made headlines, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had said that the government would spare no effort to secure Fr Uzhunnalil's release from captivity in Yemen.
"I have seen the video from Father Tom. He is an Indian citizen and the life of every Indian is most precious for us," Sushma Swaraj had tweeted.
The Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia had said that it got 'strong indications' that Father Uzhunnalil is alive.
The church then said it was making 'all efforts to secure a safe release' of the priest kidnapped from Aden in March, Khaleej Times reported.
On March 4 last year, the Salesian Order priest from Kerala was kidnapped after Islamic State terrorists barged into a Missionaries of Charity care home in Aden of which he was the caretaker and shot dead many people, including four nuns, one of them from India.
(With inputs from PTI)