Abducted Indian worker dies in Afghanistan (Second Lead)

February 9th, 2009 - 8:59 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Chennai, Feb 9 (IANS) An Indian worker kidnapped by unknown militants in Afghanistan last October has died in the captivity of his abductors, officials and his family said Monday.

A terse press statement from the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in Chennai said: “…the abducted Indian national Simon Paramananthan died in (the) custody of his abductors… His family in India has been informed.”

Paramanathan, 38, worked with an Italian company in Afghanistan’s Herat province and was abducted Oct 13 last year. The abductors had demanded a ransom of $50,000.

Vasanti Paramanathan, the victim’s 35-year-old widow, confirmed the tidings from her home in Kallakurichi in Tamil Nadu, 230 km south of the Tamil Nadu capital.

“We have been informed by officials in Afghanistan that my husband Simon was murdered yesterday (Sunday) night. Enquiries by my brother-in-law Subramanian also elicited the same response,” Vasanti told IANS over phone.

Speaking on phone from Afghanistan, Paramanathan’s brother Subramanian said: “Officials from the Indian Embassy (in Kabul) told me around 10:30 a.m. (Afghan time) that my bother who was ill for sometime was now dead according to his captors, who had identified themselves as ‘Mujahideen’.

“I do not know when I would get the body because (the) captors want money to return it as well,” Subramanian said.

“His captors had told me on phone that I should collect the money quickly because my brother was seriously ill. They, however, did not give me a deadline. And all our efforts have gone in vain,” Subramanian added.

Official sources in New Delhi said the Afghan government also conveyed to the Indian external affairs ministry about Paramanathan’s death.

“We are in touch with the Afghan officials. The circumstances of his death are not clear. It will become clear only after the post-mortem report,” a source told IANS.

“It does not look like a political killing aimed at sending a message to India. The motive appears to be purely mercenary,” the source added.

But Vasanti said her husband Paramanathan, who converted to Christianity when they married a few years ago, was murdered on two counts - the first being non-payment of a ransom of $50,000 and the second that he was a Christian.

“I do not know how I will manage with my two children Nirmala, 10, and Ajith, 7,” Vasanti said.

“Simon’s employers, an Italian company, kept on delaying the negotiation process and now he is dead. I really do not know when I would see his mortal remains,” Vasanti added.

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