New Delhi: Agitated family members of Indian sailors being held captive by Somali pirates today made an emotional plea to the government to intervene and negotiate with the sea brigands for their release.
"It has been more than 9 months since my younger brother Saurav Kumar (23) was kidnapped by these pirates," said Sushil Kumar during a protest at Jantar Mantar here, adding that the pirates had given them time till December 20 and that he was not sure about the fate of his brother.
"They are beaten and tortured and are given food and water in very less quantities," said Shyji, mother of Dibin (22) who hails from Kerala.
Demanding urgent intervention from the government, the families said in one voice that they have met many ministers but other than assurances, no concrete action has come from their side.
"We have met Shipping Minister G K Vasan, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and also Defence Minister A K Antony but apart from assurances they haven`t done nothing," alleged Sushil.
Among those on board MT Royal Grace is Mridul (25) whose mother Vinodini sought action from the government, saying that they are regularly coming to the capital from Kerala and apart from "hollow assurances", the government isn`t doing anything.
"They (pirates) have demanded USD 1.7 million and from where are we going to get that much money," said Kumar who came from Meerut.
The government, in its bid to tackle the piracy menace, had recently announced a co-ordinated effort between the Ministries of Shipping and External Affairs and has issued guidelines for deployment of armed guards on board merchant ships by the ship owners to fight piracy.
"17 sailors, out of 22, are Indian," said Sushil as he strssed on the issue of their release.