The family members of an Indian sailor, who has allegedly been kidnapped by sea pirates in West Africa’s Gabon, are hoping for his safe return. At the moment, the distressed family has been struggling to seek information regarding the whereabouts of their kin.
Pankaj Kumar, who was on board MV Tampen, while the vessel was cruising from Cameroon to the UAE with 17 crew members, has been missing since August. Pankaj could not be traced after their ship was attacked by sea pirates in Gabon.
The 30-year-old has been married since 2019. However, he could only spend a month with his wife. His hometown is Chounta village in Gurdaspur district, Punjab. He was the Second Engineer on MV Tampen.
On 26 August 2021, Pankaj’s brother, Sandeep Kumar, said that he had called to inform that he would perhaps not be able to contact them owing to network issues at the sea. Pankaj, however, had promised to contact the family as soon as the ship got anchored at any port.
On 26 September, Sandeep received a call from the Proactive Shipping Management firm that informed him about Pankaj’s ship being anchored at Gabon on 31 August after it had developed propulsion issues but his brother had been missing. Being through this heart-rending situation, the victim’s brother, Sandeep said that the incident has left him shocked as Pankaj was “everything” for him.
Days later, Sandeep said that the same company had called him to confirm that Pankaj has been kidnapped by the pirates. On 12 September, Sandeep had also spoken to the chief cook, who informed him about the same incident.
When asked about what kind of assistance the family has received so far from the government, Sandeep has reportedly said that the family visited Dinanagar police station, where the officials refused to help, asking them to go to Mumbai to register their FIR. The family also tried contacting Sunny Deol, the Gurdaspur MLA. They have been in touch with his PA, but so far, the family has not received a response.
While the African pirates had thrown Pankaj overboard, they had shot and injured Sunil Ghosh, the Chief Cook, and Naurial Vikas, the Chief Officer. They were later admitted to a hospital.