New Delhi: The Centre on Wednesday appeared helpless in securing the release of Indian sailors held hostage by Somali pirates, with External Affairs Minister SM Krishna failing to list any concrete measures his government was taking on the issue.
Responding to Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj’s question in Lok Sabha, Krishna said the government was doing all it can to secure the captive sailors release.
The remarks came on a day when the deadline set by Somali pirates for paying the USD 4 million ransom to secure the release of six Indian sailors on board MV Suez, is set to expire.
The pirates had hijacked Egyptian cargo ship MV Suez in the Gulf of Aden on August 2, 2010. Besides the six Indians, the ship’s crew includes four Pakistanis, four Sri Lankans and 11 Egyptians.
BJP leader Sushma Swaraj raised the issue in Parliament during Question Hour and in his response, Krishna sought to assure the Lower House by saying he was in touch with the local governments and ship owners and that the government was doing all it can.
This did not satisfy the BJP which led a walkout of the entire Opposition.
Krishna said that piracy was a complicated international issue and that “we can only stress with them (local governments and ship owners) to do all they can for Indians’ safety and secure their release”.
Noting that the issue was of highest priority for the government, the minister said he was personally in touch with the Egyptian Ambassador in India.
Swaraj, reacting to Krishna’s statement, said it only showed the government’s “helplessness”.
According to Krishna, a total of 79 Indian crew members on board seven ships were being held hostage by Somali pirates.
First Published: Wednesday, March 09, 2011, 16:38