India had sought Pakistan's help in rescuing Border Roads Organisation employee Maniappan Raman Kutty, who was abducted and killed by the Taliban, but was told by Islamabad that it has ceased to have any contacts with the Afghan militia, the Lok Sabha was informed on Monday. Pakistani authorities expressed their inability to assist on the ground that they no longer had any contacts with the Taliban, leader of the house Pranab Mukherjee said after making a suo motu statement on the Kutty incident.
He denied that Government has pointed an accusing finger at Pakistan for Kutty's killing in western Afghanistan after four days in captivity. The clarification came from Mukherjee, who is also the Defence Minister, when leader of the opposition L K Advani drew the government's attention to reports quoting National Security Adviser M K Narayanan that Pakistan was involved in the dastardly act.
Advani said it was a serious matter and wanted Government to take Parliament into confidence. Mukherjee said he had spoken to Narayanan who told him that he was "misquoted" in news reports. Narayanan conveyed to him that he had not stated that Pakistan was responsible for the incident. The NSA said he had spoken about Pakistan's hand in the past when that country had ties with the Taliban, Mukherjee said.
Mukherjee assured the House that government attached utmost importance to the safety and security of all Indian citizens and "...will not hesitate in taking whatever measures that are necessary to ensure this." He said, "The Taliban and its backers bear the responsibility for consequences of this outrageous act. The perpetrators of this heinous crime must be brought to justice swiftly." Giving details of the case and government's efforts to secure the safe release of Kutty, Mukherjee said the BRO employee was working in Afghanistan on the 218-kilometre Zaranj-Delaram road project as a driver.
Observing that this road was vital for the development and the well being of the Afghan people, he said, "It is inconceivable that anybody should be opposed to it and threaten those working on it." Mukherjee described Kutty, who was abducted on November 19 along with three Afghan nationals, as a "Sincere and dedicated" BRO worker.
On November 20, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the abduction and demanded the withdrawal of the BRO from Afghanistan within 48 hours, failing which the Indian hostage would be killed. Mukherjee said no effort was made by the abductors to contact either the Indian Embassy or the BRO. The Afghan government too was unable to establish contact with them. He said the government made "Every effort possible" to seek the safe release of Kutty in cooperation with Afghan authorities.
Mukherjee said Afghan President Hamid Karzai had himself taken charge of these efforts by convening a special cabinet meeting and setting up a task force to deal with the crisis. Government remained firmly committed to extending support and assistance to Afghanistan in its quest for economic development and building a stable and prosperous country.
"We are in touch with Afghan authorities to ensure the safety of all Indians in Afghanistan," he said adding, "We have also reviewed security arrangements with concerned ministries and agencies." A team led by the Director General of BRO is leaving for Afghanistan to review security arrangements of Indians in that country, he said.
Strongly condemning the "inhuman and barbaric" act against an innocent person, Mukherjee said Kutty was working on an India-Afghan friendship project with utmost devotion. "We value the ultimate sacrifice he had made to the cause of India-Afghan friendship." He said Kutty's family would receive a total of about Rs 9 lakhs as compensation and benefits with free education to the secondary level for his two children and liberalised family pension for the widow.