The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Taliban axe hangs on Indian
Suryanarayana’s wife Manjula shows his picture in Hyderabad. (PTI)

Hyderabad/New Delhi, April 29: The Taliban today threatened to kill an Indian telecom engineer it has taken hostage unless all Indians working in Afghanistan quit the country by tomorrow evening.

K. Suryanarayana and his Afghan driver were abducted last evening by gunmen who waylaid their car on a highway in the southern province of Zabul.

“If India does not pull out all its nationals working in Afghanistan by 6 pm (1330 GMT) tomorrow, we’re going to kill him,” Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf said over phone from an undisclosed location.

Delhi convened an emergency meeting chaired by cabinet secretary B.K. Chaturvedi, deputing a high-level team to Afghanistan to help secure the 41-year-old Hyderabadi’s release.

“We would like to assure Suryanarayana’s family that no stone is being left unturned to obtain his release,” foreign secretary Shyam Saran said.

Suryanarayana, who the Taliban claimed was an “American spy”, was working with Bahrain-based firm Al Moayed, which is engaged in a project for Afghan mobile service provider Roshan Telecom.

Back home in Secunderabad, a shroud of gloom settled on the engineer’s Malkajgiri home as relatives and well-wishers kept dropping in by the dozens.

“We want our daddy back. He does not hurt anyone. Uncle, please tell them not to harm my daddy,” Suryanarayana’s six-year-old daughter Satyateja told The Telegraph.

“We are shocked to the core and don’t know what will happen next,” added wife Manjula. The couple has two daughters and a son.

A teary-eyed Chandrasekhar, Suryanarayana’s 60-year-old father, looked beside himself with worry. His mother, too, was on the verge of tears.

“My son spoke to me on Wednesday before going to work and said he would be returning to India next month,” Chandrasekhar, a retired state government employee, said.

But he added that his son had told him “only junior officials were sent to interior regions and forced to take all the risks”.

The family, including Suryanarayana’s brothers, could not help but worry as the Taliban has killed many Indians after keeping them captive, he said.

Last November, Border Roads Organisation jawan Maniappan R. Kutty was abducted and killed. Delhi had then raised the issue of security of its nationals with Kabul, which had promised Indians would be protected.

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