M A I N   N E W S

Taliban abduct Indian engineer in Afghanistan
Threaten to kill him; Centre in touch with Kabul
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 29
Indian strategic interests received another setback in Afghanistan when a resurgent Taliban in an increasingly lawless country kidnapped yet another Indian and threatened to kill him by 6 pm tomorrow if all Indians did not leave Afghanistan till then.

Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran virtually rejected the kidnappers’ demand this evening when he said: “Our presence in that country is to promote the welfare of the people of Afghanistan and the vast majority of the Afghan people have welcomed Indians working in their midst as their friends and well-wishers. We wish to assure the Government and people of Afghanistan that India stands by them and will continue to fulfill its solemn commitments to Afghanistan’s development.”

The whereabouts of the kidnapped Indian, Mr K Surya Narayanan, remained unknown till late this evening despite the best efforts of the Afghan authorities. The threat in case of Mr Surya Narayana — that all Indians in Afghanistan leave the country before expiry of deadline — is chillingly similar to the abduction of Maniyappan Raman Kutty, a driver of the Border Roads Organisation, who was killed shortly after the expiry of an un-extended, short deadline. 

India has sent a high-level team of experts to Afghanistan to establish contact with all parties concerned and secure the early release of K. Surya Narayana. A Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson said the team is led by Joint Secretary in the ministry K.B.S. Katoch.

The 41-year-old Surya Narayana, working for a Bahrain-based engineering and IT company, Al Moayed, was kidnapped, along with his Afghan driver, while travelling towards Qalat, capital of Zabul province. Al Moayed is currently undertaking a project for Roshan Telecom, an Afghan mobile telephone service provider. According to company sources Mr Surya Narayana had gone to the site of the company’s work about 60 km from Ghazni around 1.30 pm.

The Indian Embassy in Kabul immediately contacted Afghan security authorities, the international security force deployed in the area and the Afghan mobile company, Roshan Telecom, to secure the release of the Indian national and to ensure the safety of the other Indians working in the company.

Earlier this afternoon, Cabinet Secretary B.K. Chaturvedi presided over a meeting of senior officials to review the situation. The Indian Embassy in Kabul has been instructed to keep in close and constant touch with the local authorities and the companies concerned. It has also been instructed to reiterate security instructions to all Indians working in Afghanistan and to request the companies employing them to reinforce their security.

The family of Mr Surya Narayanan has been informed of the incident and reassured of the efforts being made by the Government to secure his release.

The Foreign Secretary said so far there had been no communication or contact by the Taliban other than the claim that they had Mr Surya Narayana in their custody.

Mr Shyam Saran said: “Our Ambassador is in constant touch with the Afghan National Security Adviser and other senior officials as also the employers of Surya Narayana and with the telecom company whose project was being executed.

We have also contacted the international security forces deployed in the Zabul area, where the kidnapping took place. We would like to assure Surya Narayana’s family that no stone is being left unturned to obtain his release.”

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