In­dian woman, 2 oth­ers ab­ducted in Afghanistan

Govt in touch with Afghan au­thor­i­ties, kin of 40-yr-old

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Live - - FRONT PAGE - HT Cor­re­spon­dent

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 F u n d f o r a g r i c u l t u r a l 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.

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