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Taliban kill hostage
PM outraged; Karzai promises better security
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks in Kabul on Wednesday about the killing of an Indian by the Taliban in the southern province of Nimroz
Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks in Kabul on Wednesday about the killing of an Indian by the Taliban in the southern province of Nimroz. — Reuters photo

New Delhi, November 23
Taliban terrorists have killed an Indian hostage in Afghanistan, M R Kutty, barely within three days after taking him captive, sending a chilling reminder to the international community that the medieval mindset jihadi outfit is once again on the resurgence path.

It was a quirk of fate that Kutty, a driver with the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) which is engaged in the construction of a highly strategic road from Zaranch to Delaram in Afghanistan, was due to return home in Kerala on November 8, but was diverted to Afghanistan. He was kidnapped on November 19, 10 days after he reached there, and killed yesterday.

The Government of India, while saluting Kutty for his ultimate sacrifice to the cause of India-Afghan friendship, assured Kutty’s family members that “no stone will be left unturned, to ensure their livelihood and security.”

The government announced that Kutty’s family will receive a total of Rs 10 lakh as compensation and benefits, with free education to the secondary level for his two children.

The incident has come as a jolt to New Delhi as it is the first time in many years when an Indian national was kidnapped by terrorists on a foreign soil and killed. Last year’s kidnapping of three Indians in Iraq was a much more tedious task for New Delhi. However, still the hostages were got released by some deft diplomacy by India.

A cause of concern for the Indian government in the Kutty episode is that this kidnapping took place right in India’s backyard and the kidnappers did not even bother to negotiate either with the Afghan or Indian governments. The single-point demand that the BRO should leave Afghanistan within 48 hours was conveyed through Reuters news agency and the kidnappers gave only one deadline, which they never extended, indicating their mindset.

A more sinister implication for the Government of India is that the more than 200-km-long Zaranch-Delaram road project worth over Rs 300 crore, where Kutty was working, is still only 25 per cent complete. There are 290 Indians working on several projects which the Indian Government has taken up on a turn-key basis in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh discussed the implications of Kutty’s slaying with top officials soon after the news was confirmed in the afternoon. The Prime Minister strongly condemned Kutty’s killing, saying: “I condemn this cowardly and brutal murder of a brave Indian, who was working in the cause of peace and development, far from his home and country and reflects the cruel and inhuman character of Taliban and the forces they represent.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai telephoned Dr Manmohan Singh in the evening and expressed his condolences on Kutty’s killing. He assured the Prime Minister that security would be increased for all Indian personnel in Afghanistan. President Karzai said Afghanistan greatly valued India’s assistance.

Cabinet Secretary B N Chaturvedi also reviewed the security arrangements with the ministries and agencies, concerned to ensure the safety of all Indian nationals in Afghanistan.

The Ministry of External Affairs described the killing as an “inhuman and barbaric act” against an innocent person. “The Taliban and its backers bear the responsibility for the consequences of this outrageous act. We earnestly hope that the perpetrators will be brought to justice swiftly,” it said.

The MEA also stated that the Government of India remained firmly committed to assisting the Government and people of Afghanistan in their quest for economic development and building a stable and prosperous country and added that New Delhi was in touch with Afghan authorities to ensure the safety of all Indians in Afghanistan.



Kutty’s family devastated

Chingoli (Kerala), November 23
The wife and aged parents of Maniappan R. Kutty, the Indian driver, who was kidnapped in Afghanistan and subsequently killed by the Taliban, is in a state of shock after hearing of his death.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had confirmed the news of Maniappan’s death, his uncle, Krishanankutty, said. The news had been conveyed to Maniappan’s aged parents Ramankutty (70) and Mani (60). His wife Bindu and two children are also with them and the family is devastated, he said.

The family was waiting for Maniappan to visit them on November 8 when, instead, the Border Roads Organisation personnel was posted to Afghanistan. “We were eagerly waiting for the homecoming, which was never to be,” Mr Krishnankutty said.

Maniappan is the only son of his parents and the sole breadwinner of the family.

With tears and prayers, the family was hoping against hope to hear good news, a relative said.

As unconfirmed reports about Maniappan’s killing poured in last night, the Chief Minister had informed them that the news was incorrect, giving some hope to the family. — PTI



BJP flays killing
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 23
The BJP today condemned the killing of Border Road Organisation (BRO) driver Maniappan Raman Kutty by the Taliban and urged the government to take all steps to ensure safety and security of the Indians engaged in reconstruction work in Afghanistan.

BJP Parliamentary Party spokesperson Vijay Kumar Malhotra said, “We urge the government to ensure safety and security of other Indians in Afghanistan.”


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