Kidnapped Indian released in Afghanistan, family happy (Roundup)

May 19th, 2008 - 8:19 am ICT by admin  

Kabul/New Delhi, May 18 (IANS) India has thanked the Afghan government for the successful rescue of a kidnapped Indian national late Saturday, and his relatives are happy he was at last free after 27 days in captivity. Sarang Mohammed Naeem, and Nepali national K.B. Gurung, both employees of a Dubai-based logistics firm, were released late Saturday night, the Indian embassy in Kabul said.

According to the embassy, the two men were kidnapped by a “criminal gang” April 21 while travelling from Herat to Adraskan. Their Afghan driver, who was also abducted, was released soon after. The kidnapping had come to light when a passing taxi driver told the police he found a Toyota Corolla abandoned on the road.

After their release, Naeem and Gurung reached the premises of their employer HEB International in Adraskan in Herat early Sunday morning.

“Both persons, who suffered a long ordeal of 27 days in captivity, are in good spirits and content about their safe release,” said the embassy statement.

“The Indian embassy is deeply appreciative to the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in bringing this matter successfully to a close,” it added.

Embassy officials were in touch with Naeem who was at his employer’s premises at Adraskan but was expected to come to Kabul soon.

According to Xinhua, Herat’s police spokesman Noor Khan Nikzad said five people have been arrested for the abductions.

“Afghan security personnel arrested five persons with suspected links to the abductors following the kidnapping in Adraskan, which mounted pressure on the kidnappers and thus forced them to release the Indian and Nepalese,” Nikzad told Xinhua. He dismissed suspicion of a possible personnel exchange deal between the authorities and the abductors.

Sweets were distributed and prayers were offered at Naeem’s home as the news of his release reached his hometown Mangalore in Karnataka.

Naeem’s parents, Sarang Mohammed Hussain and Chand Sultana, received a call early Sunday morning from Sunil Shetty, a director of the company with which he was employed, informing them of their son’s release by the kidnappers.

“We expect him to be back in the next two or three days,” Hussain told reporters at his house, as family members handed out sweets to relatives and neighbours who came calling as the news spread.

Naeem’s mother said he had called Sunday morning and told them he was safe and there was nothing to worry.

“He said that he should be in Mangalore in the next two or three days,” she said.

“Naeem’s wife and three children are in Mumbai, her hometown. He called Mumbai and informed them of his release,” Hussain said.

Naeem’s abduction, which came close on the heels of a suicide bomber targeting a road construction crew that killed two Indian workers April 12, again raised concerns about the safety of Indians in Afghanistan.

India has already announced its decision to send more security personnel to Afghanistan to guard Indian installations and ensure the safety of Indians working there.

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

The Taliban militia is suspected to be behind most attacks on Indians as they do not 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.

However, the latest kidnapping was not blamed on the Taliban, but on a “criminal gang”.

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