Somalia captives return home
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.
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
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
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
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
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.