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Briefing by Foreign Secretary on the kidnapping of Indian engineer Mr K. Suryanarayan in Afghanistan

New Delhi
April 30, 2006 

FOREIGN SECRETARY: Based on the statement which has been made by the Taliban and also on the report that we have now received from the site where the dead body of a person was found between Qalat and Ghazni this morning, it would appear that Mr K. Suryanarayan, an Indian engineer working for a Bahraini company, Al Moayed, on a telecom project in Afghanistan, has unfortunately been killed.

The Government of India is appalled by this dastardly and inhuman act of terror on the part of the Taliban and its sponsors, which has resulted in the tragic and untimely death of an innocent Indian citizen, who, like many of our other compatriots, had been making a contribution to Afghanistan’s reconstruction with dedication and diligence.

The Government of India extends its heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the bereaved family and shares its grief and deep sense of loss. We stand by the members of the family in their hour of profound sorrow and pledge our support to them to ease their pain and suffering. We assure them that every effort is being made to apprehend the perpetrators of this criminal act and bring them to justice swiftly.

As soon as the abduction of Suryanarayan took place, the Government of India left no stone unturned to seek his safe release. A crisis management team was convened by the Cabinet Secretary to monitor developments on a continuing basis and work out urgent measures to deal with the crisis. The Prime Minister personally followed developments in this regard. A team led by a senior MEA official, and including experts in handling hostage situations, was promptly dispatched to Afghanistan, to assist our Embassy in Kabul to deal with the situation. We had been in constant communication with the Afghan authorities, with the international security forces deployed in the Zabul area and with our network of contacts in the country, to make every effort possible to bring this unfortunate incident to a satisfactory conclusion. However, Suryanarayan was brutally murdered even before the MEA team landed in Kabul this morning. It is obvious that the kidnappers were not interested in negotiating for his release but had premeditated his killing. The outrageous demand that all Indians should leave Afghanistan within 24 hours testifies to the real motivation behind this act of terror.

The Government and people of India will never bow to such acts of terrorism and will continue their fraternal assistance to the people of Afghanistan in their endeavours to bring peace, stability and economic recovery to their country ravaged by years of conflict. Several measures have been taken in the past few months to increase the level of security for Indian nationals working on Indian Government-aided projects in Afghanistan. Private companies employing Indian personnel had also been advised to put in place comprehensive security measures. These measures would be further reviewed and strengthened and the special team now in Kabul has been mandated to make any further recommendations to Government after consulting Afghan authorities, our Embassy and the companies employing Indian citizens.

The Government of India regards Taliban a terrorist organization and calls upon the international community to recognize its true colours and join hands together to defeat this scourge to humanity.

QUESTION (NIDHI RAZDAN, NDTV): Sir, you talked about the Taliban as sponsors of terrorism. For the last few months the authorities in Kabul have been pointing fingers towards Islamabad and blaming them for the spiraling violence by the Taliban. Are you making an indirect reference to Pakistan and saying that Pakistan needs to do more to crack on the Taliban insurgents especially along the Pak-Afghan border?

FOREIGN SECRETARY: As you are aware there have been reports that Taliban elements have been operating in the areas which straddle the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and have been carrying out acts of terrorism. We have also witnessed their involvement in acts of terrorism within Pakistan itself. This only underscores the need to recognize the Taliban and other similar outfits who profess an ideology of extremism, an ideology of violence, as terrorist organizations. And these must be confronted and defeated by the international community acting together; I think this includes India and Pakistan as well.

QUESTION (PRANAY SHARMA): Mr. Saran, do we have any kind of leverage with the Taliban. And, did we ask Pakistan…

FOREIGN SECRETARY: I have just mentioned to you the need for both India and Pakistan as well as the international community to work together. Today there is really no tolerance for terrorism throughout the world. There is zero tolerance for terrorism. I think this act only underscores the need for all of us to work together to defeat this scourge.

QUESTION (PARUL MALHOTRA, CNN-IBN): Sir, what arrangements are being made to bring the body back?

FOREIGN SECRETARY: Well, we will be making whatever arrangements are required and as early as possible to bring the body back to India. These are details which are already being worked out. As soon as we have any confirmation about the arrangements to bring the body back to India we will, of course, keep you informed.

Thank you.