Only Want Our Son Back: Father of Abducted Indian in Afghanistan

Only Want Our Son Back: Father of Abducted Indian in Afghanistan

India

Video Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam

On 6 May, seven Indian engineers working for an infrastructure and electricity company, KEC international, were abducted from the northern Baghlan province of Afghanistan.

The engineers were working on a project for the construction of a power sub-station and were abducted by militants from the vicinity of the Cheshma-e-Sher area while they were travelling to inspect the work.

The families of these workers received the information a day later, but ever since, they have been anxious to learn the whereabouts of the men.

The abducted workers are from the Indian states of Jharkhand, Bihar and Kerala. Speaking to The Quint, one of the family members of the abducted workers said that they had been working in Afghanistan for almost two years.

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My son went to Afghanistan two years ago and he has been missing for the last one month. He was working with KEC company. We got a call from there saying that he has been kidnapped. It has been a month and we haven’t got any information.
Premchand Mahto, Father of an Abducted Worker
Premchand Mahto, father of an abducted Indian worker.
Premchand Mahto, father of an abducted Indian worker.
(Photo: The Quint)

Protest Outside Ministry of External Affairs

On 7 June, the family members of two of the abducted workers from Jharkhand, along with Vinod Singh, CPI(ML) ex-MLA from Bagodar in Jharkhand and Niraj Kumar, Delhi State Secretary of All India Student Association (AISA) protested outside the Ministry of External Affairs demanding government action in the matter.

Speaking to The Quint on 11 June, family members of two of the workers alleged that the ministry was scheduled to meet them on 9 June, but that the meeting had been cancelled.

However, The Quint was later informed that the family members of all seven workers had been called for a meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on 15 June.

Niraj Kumar, Delhi State Secretary, AISA told The Quint that the families were kept at an undisclosed location somewhere in Gurugram.

“They have met Sushma Swaraj and they have been told that the government is trying to get the workers back,” Kumar said.

The details of the meeting were not disclosed citing security reasons.

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MEA’s Response

The Quint tried to contact the Ministry of External Affairs, but hasn’t received any response. However, the Indian Embassy in Kabul told The Quint on 11 July that they are in “close contact” with the Afghan authorities for the safe release of the workers.

We are in close contact with the Afghan Ministry for Interior and National Directorate of Security (NDS). External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has also spoken to the Afghan Foreign Minister who had assured of all help.
Indian Embassy in Kabul told The Quint

Earlier, on 7 June, MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had also said that the government has accorded “top priority” status to the release of these Indians in Afghanistan.

We are according top priority to the problem. We are seized of the matter and the EAM (Sushma Swaraj) had also mentioned that this is a sensitive matter. We are in touch with the Afghan side and other stakeholders. 
Raveesh Kumar, Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs

A Father’s Cry For Help

Meanwhile, distressed family members of the abducted workers narrate their ordeal and wish that they will be reunited soon.

Speaking to The Quint, Premchand Mahto, father of abducted Hulas Mahto said:

My son was the only earning member in a family of 10 people. He has three children and a wife who are devastated by this news. I appeal to the government to give me my son back, what else will I ask for now?

Mahto goes on to say that the family has been coping up with the news but since they have no information each day is a struggle.

“We don’t know anything about him. We don’t know what will happen,” said an emotional Mahto trying to hold back his tears.

(Update: This story was originally published on 13 June, 2018 and has been updated to incorporate the response of the Indian Embassy in Kabul on 11 July and the meeting of the families with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on 15 June.)

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