Govt taking all steps for early release of seafarers
New Delhi: In a bid to tackle the menace of piracy in a more effective manner, the Ministries of Shipping and External Affairs on Monday decided to coordinate their efforts to secure early release of seafarers held hostage by Somali pirates.
"The Ministers of Shipping and External Affairs have decided to remain in close contact and coordinate efforts ... to secure early release of Indian hostages," official sources said after a high-level meeting, chaired jointly by Shipping Minister GK Vasan and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid here to review the progress made in that regard.
The government had last month assured protesting family members of 17 sailors, who are being held hostage by Somali pirates for the past nine months, that it would continue its efforts to ensure their release.
During the course of the week, the family members of the Indian seafarers have met Vasan and Khurshid besides key officials in both the Ministries and had also staged protests outside the Shipping Ministry.
The families have been demanding immediate release of the sailors, who have been held captive by Somali pirates off the Gulf of Aden, between Yemen and Somalia, on UAE-owned MT Royal Grace.
"The urgency to find ways to secure the release of Indian seafarers was underscored during the meeting. The meeting also touched on issues relating to piracy in general and also recent efforts made by the government in international fora particularly in the United Nations Security Council to forge global consensus on addressing the challenges posed by Somali pirates," the sources said.
The government has already issued guidelines for deployment of armed guards on board merchant ships by the ship owners to combat piracy.