UP sailor freed by Somali pirates gets his ‘second life’
Monday, December 31, 2012
Santosh Yadav of UP’s Ballia district is among five Indians who have been freed from the captivity of Somali pirates after 33 months.
Yadav, who reached Delhi on Saturday evening, spent Sunday meeting relatives in the capital city. On Monday, he will leave for home, where wife Reena and other family members are eagerly waiting.
“I had never thought that I would ever return home. This is my second life,” said Yadav over the phone from Delhi.
Yadav said he would never forget the torture he and his colleagues underwent at the hands of the pirates. “They used to beat us and sometimes refused to give us food and water,” he said.
“There were a total of 24 crew members on the ship when it was hijacked. Twenty-two persons were rescued and two are missing. We have no information what the pirates did to them. One of them was an Indian,” said Yadav.
Besides Yadav, four others who were brought to Delhi are Ganesh Mohite, Saji Purushottam, Jasvinder Singh and Swapnil Dadasahib Jadav.
Santosh left for sailing in January 2010, just 10 days after his marriage with Reena. On March 29, 2010, the ship MV Iceberg-1, a Panamanian flagged vessel, was hijacked by Somali pirates when it was in the Gulf of Aden. The ship, carrying heavy generators and other electric equipment, was on the way to Dubai when the incident took place.
The pirates forcibly took the ship to their area and once the anchor was dropped, many more pirates joined the gang. All 24 crew members were confined to one part of the ship, with two pirates guarding the area round-the-clock. The pirates demanded a ransom of $8 million to free the ship and its crew.
“The initial days were nightmarish. But as days passed, we realised that the pirates’ intention was only to make money. We knew we were safe so long as we obeyed their dictates. The harassment started once the pirates came to know that the shipowners had refused to give money. They started beating us, and denying us food and water. We were allowed to sleep only for six hours over a few days,” said Yadav.
He said that since many pirates knew English, communicating with them was no problem. “They allowed us to speak to our families after taking money,” said Yadav.
“We could speak to him around 10 times. Last time, we talked to him about six months ago,” said Yadav’s wife Reena.
Around 15 days back, officials of Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) attacked the pirates. The firing went on for around 12 days. PMPF officials forced the pirates to leave ship.
“After rescuing us, PMPF officials shifted us to a safe place and later, with the help of the Indian government, we reached Delhi. Other crew members have been sent to their respective countries,” said Yadav.