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Salesians meet Ms. Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister of India regarding the release of Father Tom Uzhunnalil

By Father Jose Koyikal
Ms.Sushma Swaraj, Honourable External Affairs Minister of India along with Father Joyce Thonikuzhilyil, the Provincial of Bangalore and other Salesian priests.
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Bangalore, Aug. 21. Father Joyce Thonikuzhilyil, the Provincial of the Salesian Province of Banglore, Father Jose Koyickal, the Vice Provincial, Father George M.K. and Father Jose Mathew, Provincial of New Delhi accompanied by Father David from CBCI met Ms.Sushma Swaraj, Honourable External Affairs Minister of India on 17th August 2017 at 12.30 pm in the Head Quarters of the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi it was regarding the situation of Father Tom Uzhunnalil sdb, and Indian Salesian priest, who hails from Kottayam, who was abducted in March last year in Yemen's city of Aden.
Ms. Sushma Swaraj said that she feels with Father Tom who is facing unimaginable trauma and suffering for several months. The Government of India and personally in her responsibility as the Minister of External Affairs it is one of the top priorities to see to the safety and release of Father Tom at the earliest. All efforts are made with utmost urgency by the Government of India and help is sought from governments, organizations, and people who could assist in this process. She reiterated that Father Tom is alive and safe for sure and it is the strong hope of the Government of India that he could be released soon.

The delegation handed over the letter of appeal highlighting its concerns to the Minister and expressed hope that the sincere efforts taken by the Government will make the release of Father Tom faster.

It was on 4th March 2016 that armed terrorists entered the Home for the Destitute in Aden, Yemen, run by the Mother Teresa Sisters and shot dead four sisters of Charity and twelve employees. They abducted Father Tom Uzhunnalil SDB, belonging to the Province of Bangalore who was serving the spiritual needs of the sisters, while he was praying in the Chapel of the sisters after the Holy Mass. The Province of Bangalore together with the family of Father Tom, the Catholic Church authorities and many other organizations and people have been making all-out efforts to get his speedy release. While praying incessantly for Father Tom's release the Province has been continuously in touch with the State and Central Governments appealing to intervene and ensure his safety and quick release. Now, one year and five months has passed and the painful fact is that Father Tom still continues to be in the custody of the abductors undergoing trauma and distress.

The Province of Bangalore is immensely grateful to Rt. Rev. Theodore Mascarenhas, the Secretary General of CBCI who arranged this meeting with Ms. Sushma Swaraj and has been constantly following up the process for the release of Father Tom on behalf of the Catholic Church.
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