New Delhi: For families of the six Indian sailors on board the MV Suez, an anxious 10-month wait is over and celebrations have begun.
On Monday, Somali pirates released 22 crew members, including six Indians and four Pakistanis, of the hijacked merchant vessel after ransom was paid to them. The pirates had taken the crew members, including eleven Egyptians and a Sri Lankan, hostage after capturing the vessel MV Suez last year and demanded $ 2.1 million for their release. The ship belongs to an Egyptian company.
Leading Pakistani human rights activist Ansar Burney, who negotiated with the pirates and raised money through donations, said all the sailors would reach their homes in a few days as arrangements are being made for their repatriation.
Families of the Indian sailors have thanked Burney for his efforts. "We met almost all ministers of the government, but for over two months, we didn't hear anything about their release. Ansar Burney helped us," said Madhu Sharma, wife of Jammu's NK Sharma who was amongst the sailors held hostage.
The families allege that they have no information from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) or the Indian Navy so far, a complaint borne out by NDTV's own experience. No one answered the MEA helpline and the Navy number was wrong
The Indian Navy says it has been continuously coordinating with international forces to ensure security of MV Suez, and the ship is being provided necessary security cover. Navy sources told NDTV that the security cover was not in the form of an Indian naval ship, but there should be no apprehension about MV Suez's safety. A Navy officer, Commodore Madhavan who spoke to NDTV briefly, said, "The ship's security is the owner's responsibility and we are doing everything we can."