The Centre on Monday said it is working round the clock to secure the release of Judith D’Souza who has been abducted in Afghanistan even as her family wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to do his ‘utmost’ in ensuring that she is reunited with them at the earliest.
‘This is a very delicate matter. Human life is at stake. We are working round the clock. I cannot share details,’ tweeted External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj while responding to a question on what steps government has taken to rescue the 40-year-old woman from Kolkata.
The Indian Embassy in Kabul has been in constant touch with the Afghan authorities.
Official sources said government was in constant touch with Afghan authorities and they are making all efforts to trace and ensure her release.
Meanwhile, keeping the hope alive that Judith will be home soon, her family on Monday wrote to the prime minister, urging him to do his ‘utmost’ in securing her release.
Her father Denzil D’Souza, mother Gloria D’Souza, brother Jerome D’Souza and sister Agnes D’Souza wrote a common letter to Modi, whose copies were sent to the external affairs minister, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Trinamool Congress member of Parliament from the state Derek O’Brien.
In the letter, the family members have said the ‘brave, thoughtful, generous and compassionate’ Judith had been working in Afghanistan for the well-being of the Afghan people and ‘as an ambassador of goodwill from India’s people, participating in the developmental programmes of that country’.
Describing her as a ‘proud Indian’, the family said, ‘as you can imagine, the news of Judith’s kidnapping has shocked and stunned us. It has placed a shroud upon our family’.
They added, “We were eagerly awaiting her arrival home on vacation in a week from now, and do hope she will be back with us soon.”
Judith, working for an international non-governmental organisation Aga Khan Foundation as senior technical adviser, was kidnapped by suspected militants in the heart of Kabul three days back. She was scheduled to return to India this week.
The family members said the government has reached out to them in ‘our time of need and anxiety’ and the external affairs minister as well as an official of the ministry had spoken to them in the past two days.
‘However, we still await concrete details,’ they said.
‘Sir, we appeal to you in your capacity as the leader of our great country and as the custodian of the well-being of our citizens, to please do your utmost to get dear Judith back home, among her family, her friends and her people. Please commit all levers you can bring into play to successfully reunite our family,’ the family wrote in the letter to the prime minister.
The letter from Judith’s family members noted Modi’s remarks earlier that ‘Afghanistan’s success is a deeply-held hope and desire of every Indian’ and said it is so critical to India’s engagement with the neighbouring country. ‘...we seek your active support under this noble sentiment as well’.
The family had words of praise for the Mamata Banerjee government.
‘In Kolkata, where we have lived our lives and where Judith was born and educated, the community, our peers and the government, led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, have left us overwhelmed with our warmth and solidarity in this hour of crisis for our family,’ they said.
Earlier, the family members had said yesterday that the Centre was doing its best to bring Judith back.
‘There has been lot of communication from the MEA and the Union government. A joint secretary level officer is coordinating with us. We have full faith on the Indian government and the MEA, they are doing their best to bring my sister back. We have also spoken to the organisation my sister was working for,’ Judith’s brother Jerome said on Sunday.
Swaraj on Friday last had called up Judith’s family and assured them of making all-out efforts to bring her back.