On Saturday, Akhil, one of the three seafarers who were natives of Kerala, was released by Yemen’s Houthi rebels after 112 long days of captivity. Besides Akhil, Deepash who belonged to Meppayyoor located in Kozhikode and 28-year-old Sreejith Sajeevan who belonged to Kaippuzha in Kottayam were the three Keralites of seven Indian citizens who were on a UAE-flagged vessel that was hijacked by rebels.
The news of Akhil’s release doubled the joy of celebrations as Jithina’s return from Ukraine happened about 50 days back. Jithina, Akhil’s wife, who was pursuing MBBS at the Kyiv Medical University, had been stranded after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine while Akhil remained in captivity. TNIE reported the couple’s plight and gained traction in international media.
Jithina mentioned that after their wedding on 20 August last year, the two left for their respective destinations soon, in September 2021. Akhil rejoined his firm after 14 days of being in quarantine on 10 October.
Rahul, Akhil’s brother, is working on another ship that belongs to the same company. He reported that first the ship being hijacked and then the war in Ukraine had shattered his family.
Later on, the good news started flowing their way. First, it was Jithina’s return after days of spending in a bunker, and now Akhil’s release. He added that R Chandramouli, the Djibouti ambassador was of immense help in securing the release of detainees.
Things were fine till 2 January when Sreejith called his mother and said that the vessel Houthi rebels attacked the ship and employees, including three Malayalees, had been detained. All detainees were moved to a hotel by the rebels. Thulasi, Sreejith’s mother knocked on all doors for her son’s release. Though all promised to take measures and facilitate the release, it was significantly delayed.
The Houthi rebels in Yemen hijacked the UAE cargo ship with 11 crew members, including Indians on January 2, 2022.