Families demand action by Centre to free captive seafarers

Last Updated: Sunday, March 6, 2011 - 16:46

Chandigarh: Families of six Indian seafarers held captive by Somali pirates for more than seven months now, on Sunday demanded immediate and resolute action by the Centre.

Sampa Arya, wife of third officer Ravinder Singh Gulia, one of the hostages on board the Egyptian cargo ship MV Suez urged the government to act fast to pressurise the Egyptian owners of the vessel to "seriously" negotiate the release of
the officers and crew of the ship.

Suez was hijacked by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden on August two last year.

The pirates have given a week`s deadline seeking a ransom of USD four million in exchange for the release of the six Indian seafarers, the Merchant Navy Officers Association here said.

Association chief Ajit Singh said, "There are reports of the captives being mentally and physically tortured by their Somali captors during the captivity period."

"One can imagine their plight and that of their families. The way the entire issue is being handled gives the impression that the Centre is being bogged down by red tapism and no serious effort is being made to tackle the issue head on," Singh said.

Singh said that in the absence of a coordinated and resolute response to piracy from the international community, the sea pirates especially of Somalian origin, were getting emboldened into attacking and hijacking merchant vessels in
the Arabian sea.

The family members along with the Association demanded that India suitably increase its naval strength in the area to safeguard the sea lanes and ensure smooth passage of merchant
vessels.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, March 6, 2011 - 16:46

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