Efforts on to free Indians held hostage by Somali pirates
Thiruvananthapuram: Efforts are on to get the release of seven Indian crew members, including three from Kerala, of an Indian freighter held hostage by Somali pirates, who hijacked the Vessel in 2010.
Taronish M Khajotia, CEO of ONCI Shipmanagement Private Ltd, the representatives of the ship MT Asphalt Venture on Wednesday met Chief Minister Oommen Chandy here and held a discussion with State Minister for Non-Resident Keralities Affairs KC Joseph to find a way for the release of the hostages.
The state government had already taken up the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and was also pursuing the issue vigorously, Joseph told reporters here. Process of finding a solution to the `ticklish` issue was progressing, he said.
Khajotia said though both the Central and state governments had shown interest in getting the release of the hostages `As of now we do not know what is happening on the government side.
`But, there is lot of interest on the government side to see that nothing should happen to the hostages held by the pirates`, he said.
As representatives of the ship `We will continue to do everything possible for their release. We are optimistic that something will happen. But I do not know when it will happen`, he said.
The Asphalt Venture tanker was hijacked by the pirates on its way to South Africa from Kenya at the South East of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania on September 28, 2010.
Out of the 15 crew members, eight were released by the pirates in 2011 after accepting a ransom. However, seven were kept as hostages and according to reports they were kept in some jungles of Somalia.
According to sources, the pirates had made a fresh demand of a ransom of five million dollars for the release of the seven hostages.
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