Indian woman, 2 others abducted in Afghanistan
AID WORKER MISSING Govt in touch with Afghan authorities, kin of 40-yr-old
NEW DELHI: An Indian aid worker was kidnapped in the Afghan capital, Kabul, late on Thursday, with officials saying early leads had gone cold and that there had been no contact with her kidnappers so far.
The Indian mission in Kabul said it was in touch with the Afghan authorities to secure the release of Judith D’Souza, a 40-year-old woman from Kolkata who had been working in Afghanistan for almost three years. The embassy informed D’Souza’s family about the kidnapping at about 1.30 am on Friday.
D’Souza was kidnapped with her driver and a security guard in the Qala-e-Fatullah area of Kabul, where several abductions have occurred in the past.
“The Afghan police had a couple of leads but those did not pan out. No contact has been made so far by the abductors,” a senior official closely involved in tracking the matter told Hindustan Times.
“The Indian embassy is in touch with Afghan authorities to ensure her safe release. The government is also in contact with the woman’s family in Kolkata,” a source said.
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, sources said.
Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted she had spoken to D’Souza’s sister. “We will spare no efforts to rescue her,” she said.
“She is your sister and India’s daughter. We are doing everything to rescue her.”
D’Souza is the latest addition to the list of Indians kidnapped in the war-torn country. Alexis Prem Kumar, a Jesuit priest kidnapped in the northeastern Afghan province of Herat, was released after eight months in captivity in February last year.
Two construction workers of an Indian company were kidnapped and released in December 2003. In April 2008, an Indian working for a Dubai-based company was abducted in Herat and released almost a month later.
An engineer for the Border Roads Organisation was kidnapped and later killed by the Taliban in 2005 while an Indian telecommunications worker was taken away and beheaded in 2006.
According to D’Souza’s LinkedIn profile, she had 14 years of experience working with NGOs and international institutions in countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India.
In India, she worked for organisations such as the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation and International Fund for agricultural Development between 1998 and 2013. D’Souza joined the Aga Khan Foundation as a senior technical advisor in gender in July last year. The foundation works in the fields of rural development, health, education and civil society programmes.
CONTINUED ON P9
RELATED REPORTS, P8