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Narendra Modi: Our ‘nationalism’ helped us bring back Father Tom, Father Prem: PM Modi | India News

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NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday hit back at the recent criticism by a Gandhinagar archbishop and argued that his government has helped people irrespective of their religious background.

The Prime Minister was referring to a letter written by archbishop Thomas Macwan to churches in Gujarat warning people against the “nationalist forces”.

In his letter, the archbishop had made an appeal to voters to exercise their constitutional right in favour of those who believe in the principles of secularism and the Constitution of the country.

“My appeal is not against any party or in favour of any party. I have just asked people to vote according to their conscience and vote for those who are more open to secularism and constitutional values,” Macwan had said.

The Prime Minister, in response, cited the efforts undertaken by his government to ensure the release of Father Tom and Father Prem from the clutches of the terrorists in Yemen and Afghanistan.

Modi, who was addressing a gathering after inaugurating the SGVP Hospital in Ahmedabad, said, “Those who are releasing Fatwas against ‘nationalists’ should see the effort we undertook to get Father Tom back. Father Tom was guided by his love for Lord Christ. We got Father Tom back. We also got back Father Prem, who was kidnapped in Afghanistan.”

The Keralite priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil was abducted by Islamic State terrorists during a deadly attack on a care home in the port city of Aden in war-ravaged Yemen on March 6, 2016. In July, Union minister Sushma Swaraj had taken up the issue of Uzhunnalil’s abduction with the Deputy Prime Minister of Yemen and requested him to secure the release of the priest. He was subsequently released in September.

In February 2015, India secured the release of Jesuit priest Father Alexis Prem Kumar who had been in Taliban captivity in Afghanistan since June last year.

Responding to the archbishop’s warning against the “nationalist forces”, the PM underlined the importance of the spirit of nationalism in ensuring the release of the two Christian spiritual leaders.

He substantiated his argument by quoting his government’s efforts to safely evacuate a group of 46 India nurses who were stranded in a conflict zone in Iraq.

The PM also lauded the humanitarian efforts taken by minister of external affairs Sushma Swaraj and said her desire to help those in need has transcended religious boundaries.

Updated: December 3, 2017 — 8:36 pm

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