Freed Indian Catholic aid worker returns home from Kabul

After being kidnapped for six weeks in Afghanistan, Judith D'Souza is now resting with family
Freed Indian Catholic aid worker returns home from Kabul

Indian charity worker Judith D'Souza (left) with Minister of External Affairs of Sushma Swaraj at Swaraj's New Delhi residence on July 23 after D'Souza returned to India rescued following a kidnapping in Kabul. (Photo by AFP)

An Indian Catholic aid worker, who was kidnapped six weeks ago in Afghanistan, returned home safely after being released on July 23.

Judith D'Souza, who was working in Kabul as a technical adviser with the Aga Khan Foundation, was kidnapped June 6. The identity of the kidnappers and the reason behind the abduction is still unknown.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted July 23 that D'Souza had been rescued. D'Souza, who lives in the eastern Indian Kolkata city, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Swaraj when she landed in New Delhi that same day.

D'Souza reunited with her family when she finally reached her hometown on July 24.

"Judith had a good sleep," Agnes D'Souza, her sister, told ucanews.com. "Doctors have recommended three months of rest and nutritious food. All she needs is a little peace and quiet."

Agnes said that the past six weeks was extremely difficult for everyone in the family. "Now we are ecstatic and happy that she has returned safely," she said.

Agnes said the family is very grateful to the Indian government and the federal External Affairs Ministry along with the Aga Khan Foundation for helping with her release.

During her ordeal, her brother Jerome launched an online campaign on Facebook for her release. Prayer services and candlelit vigils were held in Kolkata's churches.

"The prayers have been heard," Archbishop Thomas D'Souza of Kolkata told ucanews.com.

"After Judith's release, all the churches in the city held a special thanksgiving Mass on Sunday," said the archbishop.

He said that the Indian government has done a great deal of work to get her back. "The family is happy and praying all the time," he added.

This is not the first time an Indian Catholic has been kidnapped in Afghanistan.

In June 2014, Jesuit Father Alexis Prem Kumar from Tamil Nadu, India was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in the Afghan city of Herat. He was later released in February 2015. No details of the Jesuit priest's ordeal have been made public.

Salesian Father Thomas Uzhunallil was abducted in Yemen in March and continues to be held captive. Church officials say that top government officials are working to ensure his safe return.

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