Our big focus tonight is an uplifting story. One of hope and a win for Indian diplomacy. The Indian priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil who was kidnapped by the Islamic State in March 2016 in Yemen has finally been rescued.
Father Tom was kidnapped by ISIS after an attack on an old people’s home run by missionaries in the southern port city of Aden. Gunmen posing as relatives of one of the residents at the home barged in killing 16 people including an Indian nun. After sustained diplomatic efforts by India, Father Tom was finally rescued with the help of Oman. He has already been transferred to Muscat from where he will return to his home in Kerala tonight.
This also comes just weeks after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held extensive talks with the Deputy Prime Minister of Yemen about Father Tom who infact had appealed both to the Indian government and Pope FRANCIS to secure his release from his captors. And this isn’t the first time that the Modi govt and particularly Sushma Swaraj have been credited with successfully employing diplomatic means to secure the release of Indians from war zones.
Remember in 2015 Junior Foreign Minister General V K Singh had spearheaded Operation Raahat a large scale evacuation mission carried out in Yemen with more than 4,700 Indian nationals and close to 2,000 foreign nationals being rescued by the Indian forces. And then of course there are the numerous cases of Sushma Swaraj coming to the rescue of scores of Indians either stranded in some part of the world or in need of help and reaching out to the Foreign Minister on Twitter.
The question we’re asking tonight is – Is Father Tom’s rescue just the latest example of India’s proactive diplomacy saving the day and precious lives? Not to mention the huge diplomatic wins in Doklam and at the BRICS summit just recently.