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Kidnapped Indian priest seeks help, Indian government says efforts continue

Pope Francis and Indian government

New Delhi, Dec 26 (UITV/IANS)- With Father Thomas Uzhunnallil, the Indian priest who was kidnapped by Islamic State terrorists in Yemen earlier this year, appealing for help from the Indian government and Pope Francis, the External Affairs Ministry said on Monday that efforts continue to secure his release.

"Because I was working as a priest of the Christian religion, I was kidnapped in the month of March," Father Uzhunnallil said in a video released by his captors.

"Several months have gone by and my captors have made many contacts with the government of India to get me released," said the priest who has now a long white beard and looks fatigued.

"Honourable President and Prime Minister of India, I am sad that nothing has been done."

On March 4, the Salesian Order priest from Kerala was kidnapped after IS 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.

"You are aware of the circumstances currently prevailing in Yemen where fighting is going on with no central authority in that country," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said following the release of the video.

"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," he said.

In the video, Uzhunnallil said that there have been reports in the media that everything was being done to secure his release "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 get released," he appealed.

Addressing "fellow Christian people", he said that nothing has been done by Pope Francis and the Bishop of Abu Dhabi to get him released in spite of his captors making contact.

"If I were an European priest, I would have been taken more seriously by authorities and people and would have got me released," he said, claiming that since he was Indian, he was "perhaps am not considered of much value".

He referred to a French woman journalist who was kidnapped from Sanaa sometime back but was free today "because she is from France".

"Dear people, I pray you all, ask you all, beg you all, to do your might to help to save my life".

Addressing Pope Francis, he appealed to the pontiff to "please take care of my life".

"I request also the other bishops all over the world to come to my help, to save my life. I am very much depressed. My health is deteriorating and I may need hospitilisation soon."

He also requested help from governments of different countries.

14.ED finds over Rs 104 crore deposits in BSP account
 (22:22)
New Delhi, Dec 26 (IANS) The Enforcement Directorate has detected over Rs 104 crore in an account linked to Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and around Rs 1.5 crore in the account of party chief Mayawati's brother in a United Bank of India (UBI) branch here, agency sources said on Monday.

Agency officials, on condition of anonymity, said that its team raided the UBI bank's branch in Karol Bagh in west Delhi on the basis of information and recovered suspicious deposits in the two accounts after the November 8 demonetisation announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

BSP leaders and office bearers could not be contacted after repeated attempts.

Official sources said that Rs 102 crore was deposited in Rs 1,000 notes and about Rs 3 crore in the old Rs 500 notes. "The raid was conduced on the basis of information that over Rs 15-20 crore being deposited every other day in the branch of the United Bank."

"From the account of Anand, the brother of BSP supremo Mayawati, we detected around Rs 1.5 crore. A sum of around 19 lakh was deposited in the account after demonetisation," the official said.

The agency has sought the complete details about these two accounts from the bank and asked its officials to submit CCTV footage and KYC documents used to open the accounts.