India won’t succumb to terrorists: Mukherjee (Lead)

April 23rd, 2008 - 10:14 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 23 (IANS) India Wednesday affirmed its determination not to bow to terrorist threats but warned its nationals in Afghanistan, where an Indian was kidnapped Monday, to be extra-careful about their safety. “We will not succumb to any pressure. We are sending more security forces to Afghanistan,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told journalists in parliament, two days after an Indian was kidnapped in Afghanistan.

Mukherjee said India is keeping a close watch on developments even as Afghan agencies are yet to trace Sarang Mohammad Naeem, an Indian working for HEB International Logistics of Dubai, who was kidnapped Monday evening.

Naeem was abducted while travelling from Herat to Adraskan, along with a Nepali national and an Afghan driver. The incident was reported by a passing taxi driver, who noticed their abandoned Toyota Corolla car by the road-side.

The kidnappers have not yet been identified. No one has also claimed credit for the act.

“Everyday there is a threat and some activities (by the militants). We have zero tolerance for terrorism,” Mukherjee said while describing the kidnapping in the western Afghan province of Herat as “unfortunate.”

“They want us to leave Afghanistan, but we are not going to do it,” he said while reiterating India’s unflinching commitment to the reconstruction of Afghanistan, a strategically located country that directly impinges on India’s vital interests in the region.

The Indian Embassy in Kabul, meanwhile, issued a security advisory Tuesday asking the about 4,000 Indian nationals in Afghanistan to be “extra cautious” about their safety.

It advised Indian nationals to take along “adequate security protection” if they had to undertake a road journey as part of their job. “Tendency to avoid taking the security component must not be encouraged,” the advisory said.

It also asked them to keep a “safe distance” from convoys of international military and police.

The Indian embassy’s notice observed that Indians have been “contributing significantly in the reconstruction process, creating tremendous goodwill among Afghans”.

Further, it added that foreign workers have been often targetted by militants. “In this connection, kidnapping of members of international community to coerce the Afghan government to give in to unreasonable demands of these elements has created a fear psychosis and has added to a sense of insecurity”.

In November 2005, a driver working with the Indian Border Roads Organisation (BRO), Ramankutty Maniappan, was kidnapped and killed by the Taliban. Following his death, India enhanced its security personnel, with nearly 400 members of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) now guarding Indian installations and camps there.

Monday’s kidnapping is the latest in the series of incidents targeted at the Indians working in Afghanistan on various projects. The Taliban militia is suspected to be behind the attacks on Indians as they don’t want New Delhi to build the strategic Zaranj-Delaram road link that seeks to reduce Afghanistan’s dependence on Pakistan for overland access to Central Asia and provide an alternative route for Indian goods to that country.

India has pledged $850 million for a slew of developmental projects in Afghanistan - a gateway to energy-rich Central Asia.

This is the third incident this year involving Indian workers in Afghanistan that faces a renewed threat from a resurgent Taliban.

Nearly a fortnight ago, a suicide bomber blew himself up next to an Indian road crew, killing two Indian workers and their Afghan driver.

On Jan 3, a suicide bomber ambushed a BRO convoy, killing two Indians - Manoj Kumar Singh and Desha Singh of the ITBP. Five people were injured in the attack.

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