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A compassionate person: priest rescued from IS captivity remembers Sushma Swaraj

A file photo of Father Tom Uzhunnalil meeting former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi.

A file photo of Father Tom Uzhunnalil meeting former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

Her way of conversing with me was such that I felt she was speaking to me just like my own elder sister with so much love and affection and concern: Father Tom Uzhunnalil

Father Tom Uzhunnalil, the Keralite priest who was abducted in March 2016 by Islamic State terrorists from Aden and rescued after 18 months thanks to late Sushma Swaraj’s intervention, became emotional on Wednesday on hearing about the Former External Affairs Minister’s death.

Describing Swaraj as a humane and compassionate person, Father Uzhunnalil said he heard the sad news in the morning and prayed to God for her soul to rest in peace.

On March 4, 2016 a rebel group in Yemen held him captive and released him only on September 13, 2017.

“I was in their captivity for 557 days. The group members gave me food and kept me alive. I don’t know why I was held captive and how I was released later,” said the priest, now associated with Don Bosco.

He said his memory went back to his first contact with Swaraj on September 13, 2017, when he was freed and he reached Rome.

“She called me over phone and reassured me of every help. Her way of conversing with me was such that I felt she was speaking to me just like my own elder sister with so much love and affection and concern,” Father Uzhunnalil said.

Swaraj also discussed with him how she met the Holy Father in Rome on the occasion of canonisation of Mother Teresa and the way Sister Mary Sally was also rescued on March 4, 2016.

After he returned from Rome to India, he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sushma Swaraj.

“I felt like a family member enquiring about me. Such a humane and compassionate person she was. That’s my experience of her,” he said.

Swaraj had tweeted about rescuing Father Uzhunnalil.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 11:16:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/a-compassionate-person-priest-rescued-from-is-captivity-remembers-sushma-swaraj/article28871455.ece

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