2014-09-21
Today from Hiiraan Online:  _
Somalia captives return home

Khaleej Times
Thursday, March 21, 2013

Five of the 27 Indians rescued from a year-long captivity of Somalian pirates arrived in Kerala on Tuesday to a joyful reunion with their families.

Non-Resident Keralites Affairs Minister K C Joseph and family members and friends of the rescued five seafarers received them at the Trivandrum International Airport. The five on board MT Royal Grace were in captivity since March 2, 2012.

“We are very happy. After 12 months we are arriving home and seeing our family members, who passed more than a year in big anxiety,” said an elated Manesh Mohan, a marine engineer from Quilon.

He lauded the efforts made by the government for their release and ensuring their safe return to the country. He said he was not sure whether he will be able to meet their family members after the ship was hijacked by the pirates.

It was India’s diplomatic parleys with the President of Puntland in Somalia, Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud Farole, which yielded success in the release of the seafarers. The External Affairs Ministry had taken up the issue with him during his visit to the country a couple of months ago.

The ship carrying the 17 Indians docked at Salalah port in Muscat on March 13 where the seafarers were received by people from the Indian mission who provided the victims food and accommodation. Embassy officials arranged for doctors to conduct medical check-up and provide necessary assistance to those who needed it. They were also provided new clothing, toiletries and shoes. “We have been running from pillar to post for the release of the hostages ever since they were captured by the pirates. We are happy that we could see them alive,” says Mohanan Pillai, father of Manesh Mohan (23).

For Manesh, a Nautical Science Engineer, the brush with the pirates, came a year after he joined the ship. The ship, owned by a Nigerian, was hijacked by the pirates while it was carrying oil from Sharjah to Nigeria.

The family members have been pleading with authorities for steps to save the lives of the hostages. Pillai said the family members had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Overseas Indians Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and others concerned.

Some of them had even staged protests in New Delhi against the apathy of the authorities.

An action group was formed in Kerala to pursue the protests after the owner of the ship abandoned the negotiations with the pirates, who had reported demanded three million pounds for the release of the 17 Indians.

The Kerala government had mounted strong pressure on the federal government for the release of the hostages. A ministerial delegation that visited Delhi under Chief Minister Oommen Chandy early this week had met Shipping Minister G K Vasan and Defence Minister A K Antony and pursued the matter. 





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