While Indian officials were working with Afghan authorities to secure the release of an Indian Catholic charity worker kidnapped in Kabul on Thursday, the Christian community in the aid worker’s home city of Kolkata have come around the family. Judith D'Souza, the 40-year-old Catholic woman from the eastern city, works with the Agha Khan Network in Afghanistan to raise awareness about the role of women. She was hired by the charity which provides education and health assistance in about 30 countries.
“We pray for her safe release and return. Judith is someone involved in improving the lives of many people in difficulty,” Archbishop Thomas D'Souza of Calcutta told AsiaNews. “I assure the family of my prayers and our support. She is from the Fatima Parish, and just last month she visited her parents,” the archbishop said. He wished that Judith be able to return home to her family soon through the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima.
Agnes D'Souza, Judith’s distressed sister tweeted several messages seeking help from the Indian government. One read: “My sister Judith D'Souza abducted in Kabul. Request your immediate help to rescue her. My old parents are very distressed.” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted in response: "She is your sister and India's daughter. We are doing everything to rescue her. Pl take care of your sick father."
Judith is not the first Indian Catholic aid worker to be kidnapped in Afghanistan. Jesuit Father Alexis Prem Kumar from Tamil Nadu state was kidnapped in June 2014 and kept in capitivity for more than 8 months before the Indian government secured his release in Feb. 2015. Another priest, Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, a Salesian from southern India, who was abducted by unknown gunmen in Yemen on March 4th this year is still in capitivity. The Indian government has confirmed that Fr. Tom is alive and that it is holding talks with the abductors for his release.