The Catholic priest from Kottayam, Kerala Father Tom Uzhunnalil who was kidnapped 16 months ago in March last year has been freed with help from Oman. After of long phase of captivity Tom Uzhunnalil is a free man today.
Ever since his abduction on March 4 from an old people’s home in Yemen’s Aden, there were various reports that circulated the news of his death.
Father Tom was the only supervisor of the brutal attack in Aden, purportedly by the ISIS, which killed 16 people including 4 Indian nuns.
Around 20 days later, on March 25, there were local reports that the Indian priest has been crucified on Good Friday.
Even as the global outrage intensified after the reported crucifixion, the Indian authorities maintained that Father Tom is safe. On April 3, India issued a statement saying that Father Tom is very much alive and safe. The case hit international headlines after Pope Francis appealed for Father Tom’s release.
In his Sunday Regina Coeli address at St Peter’s Square on April 10, the Pope said, “I renew my appeal for the freeing of all kidnapped persons in armed conflict zones. In particular, I wish to remember Salesian priest Tom Uzhunnalil, who was abducted in Aden, Yemen last March 4.”
Around July, a video of a man believed to be the priest went viral. The viral video showed the blindfolded priest being thrashed by some people.
A day before Christmas, another video is released on YouTube on December 24, in which the priest asks the Indian authorities to rescue him.
More videos are released. In yet another video released in May this year on a local news website, Father Tom pleaded for help. “They are treating me well to the extent they are able,” he said, speaking slowly in English.
“My health condition is deteriorating quickly and I require hospitalization as early as possible,” he added in the recording. The date April 15, 2017 was written on a cardboard pasted on his body.
On July 11, this year, the Yemen officials convey to India that Father Tom is alive. On Tuesday, with help from Sultan of Oman, Father Tom is rescued.
In a photo issued by the Oman news agency ONA, the priest appears in good health. The priest, who is in Muscat right now, will be flying to India later on Tuesday.