As many as 20 sailors were confined in Yemen for the past 10 months as they mistakenly anchored in a war-zone. The crew of 14 Indian 5 Bangladeshi and 1 Egyptian seafarer got released recently after the UAE based trader, Dr Dhananjay Datar intervened.
The Masala King, painstakingly lobbied for the release of the sailors by continuously interacting with the Indian Embassy in Djibouti. After rounds of follow-ups and continuous communications by Dr Dhananjay Datar, CMD, Al Adil Trading LLC, UAE, the embassy in Djibouti, Yemen finally processed it and the sailors were released this month.
The 14 Indian sailors are now on their return voyage to India via Aden. The kind Dr Datar has also given them a sum of 20,000 INR as emergency help as the seafarers are without any money at present. Meanwhile, the Embassy is working hard to get their passports and visas authorized for the return journey.
Sailors Arrested by Yemen Coast Guards
- The trapped Indian sailors joined an Oman based shipping company earlier in January.
- From Mumbai they had travelled to Muscat to join the crew. At Muscat, the 6 other seafarers from Bangladesh and Egypt joined them.
- The crew started their first voyage to Yanbu Port, KSA on 3rd February as the company received a KSA contract.
- However, by February 12, one of their ships sank in the turbulent sea.
- The crew from the sunken ship was rescued and they continued to serve on another ship which had to anchor because of cyclonic storms.
- Trouble began when they realized that they had anchored in a war zone which falls under Yemen’s territory.
- Soon, they were arrested by the Yemen Coast Guards and were confined to a hotel in the Sana City.
- During the enquiry, the crew’s passports, cell phones, cash and other documents were seized by the authorities.
- Without their cell phones they couldn’t contact the outside world as they remained in isolation in hope of rescue efforts by the shipping company.
Amongst the 14 Indian sailors, 6 were Maharashtrians – Sandeep Lohar and Nilesh Lohar from Kolhapur, Fairoz Zari from Ratnagiri, Ahmed Wakankar and Dawood Jivarak from Dapoli, Tanmay Mane from Alibaug; while 3 people Maniraj Marippan, Mohanraj Thanigchalam and William Nicamden were from Tamil Nadu, 1 Chetan Gawas from Goa; 1 Pravin T from Pondicherry, 1 Abdul Mustaba from Kerala, 1 Hiron Seikh Siddiki from West Bengal and Sanjeev Kumar from UP.
Friends of the Sailors Contacted Dr. Datar
It was only when they were allowed to contact their families a few months ago, that the world came to know about their plight. Friends of the Indian sailors contacted Dr. Datar who had previously tasted success in helping retrieve 700 Indian workers from KSA.
The Masala King immediately took matters into his hands and contacted Vipul the former Consul General of India in Dubai who was presently stationed at the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi. He promptly initiated a conversation with the Indian Ambassador of Djibouti, a neighbouring country of Yemen as India didn’t have an Embassy in Yemen
Ashok Kumar, the Ambassador in Djibouti, the former ambassador Dyaneshwar Mulay, Dhanashree Patil (Pune) and Dr Sunil Manjarekar (Dubai) pressed for the matter to help Dr Sara retrieve the trapped Indian sailors from Yemen.
The Nightmare on Foreign Soil
The relieved sailors thanked Dr. Datar expressed gratitude after being released.
One of the sailors, Nilesh Lohar described their plight as a ‘nightmare on foreign soil’ where they survived on Dal rice and tea for 10 months plight of him and his colleagues.
“We were interrogated many times. The Yemeni guards confiscated everything we had. Each of us had paid a sum of Rs one lakh to three lakh to the agent for this job and it is lost now. Even the employee company hasn’t paid our salary yet. We are penniless now. We owe gratitude to Dr Datar who provided us with some financial relief as emergency help. We will never forget his charity and humanity. We are all eagerly waiting to meet our families,” he said.
The Masala King Determined To Help His Countrymen
Speaking about the initiative, Dr. Datar said that he was determined to help his countrymen stranded in foreign shores and hoped they would safely return home to their families.
“Our Al Adil Group has rescued and evacuated more than 5,000 jobless and penniless Indian workers stranded in the GCC region to their homeland. I am highly thankful to Ashok Kumar and other embassy staff and also Dyaneshwar Mulay who took great efforts to rescue the sailors”.
He further reiterated that he will contact the Labour Ministry of Oman so that necessary steps are taken to ensure the shipping company clears the sailors’ salaries.