Kabul (AsiaNews) - "Why would anyone kidnap a Jesuit priest? Alexis worked with the poor, he did nothing wrong". This is what A.S.M Anthony (pictured) asks of everyone he meets. He is the 77 year-old father of Fr. Alexis Prem Kumar SJ, an Indian missionary kidnapped in Afghanistan last June 2 by a gang of unidentified armed men. Since then, the police and local security forces have been searching for him, but without making any ground to date.
Meanwhile, in Tamil Nadu, his home state, his father says the phone has not stopped ringing. "But I - he adds - I cannot answer, because I know nothing." Anthony is a retired teacher and lives with one of his five children. His wife died a year ago. "Alexis is 47 years old now - he explains - and is my eldest son. One of my daughters, Elizabeth, is also in the service of Our Lord".
The last time the Jesuit visited his loved ones was in
February, when he took a month's vacation. "He was in his office in Delhi
for a week - remembers his father - and then he spent three weeks with us. He
was happy to be home. He told me that even though Afghanistan was still under
the yoke of continuing violence, the area in which he worked was peaceful and so
I did not have to worry about him. "
Fr. Alexis is head of the Afghan section of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) and is involved in supporting returning refugees from Iran and Pakistan through education and health programs. "In general - says Anthony - he would call us once a week, on Saturday or Sunday. He would speak to everyone who was at home. I've never called: I do not have his number or his address. He never gave them to me so I never asked".
The family learned of the abduction on the same day, from an official of the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: "They told me he was with three other people in the place when he was abducted by five armed men. They have told his companions to leave and they took him away. Why? ".
Yesterday the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, Jayalalithaa, appealed to Narendra Modi, the newly elected Prime Minister of India, to intervene and secure the release of the Indian aid worker. In a letter, the woman explained that Fr. Alexis Prem Kumar is fondly remembered throughout the state for the extraordinary work to help tribals, especially women and children.
"There are concerns - Jayalalithaa pointed out - that his life may be in mortal danger."