A deadly assault on a Panamanian ship has scared the Indian crew of the ship in the deep sea, says Tamilvannan, a sailor from Namakkal.
Indian seafarers of MV VSG Pride have been in tension as the chief cook of the ship has stabbed one of them and assaulted some others. The seafarers caught between the deep sea and a murderer have sent SOS messages to Indian officials for rescue
They don’t know what should be the course of action. The seafarers haven’t decided yet whether they should let go of the job which they got after paying their life savings to an agent or do continue with the journey with a potentially dangerous man onboard.
The Namakkal sailor had further revealed the state of affairs in the ship, highlighting that the captain and chief engineer haven’t taken any action against the perpetrator and they are not helping the distressed crew. Moreover, the Vietnamese officials had given them rotten vegetables and lubricating oil to cook and eat.
At present, the crew has requested Indian officials to intervene and take care of their safety or negotiate with the agent to get back the service charge.
The crew has been facing this for the last 15 days. Trouble had started when the chief cook Pham Xuan Hai attacked them on April 16th as he was offended. He had bought a knife and went into the sailors’ room to attack and kill the crew.
The severely injured crew had complained to the captain but he had only tried to calm things down and laughed at their plight. No medicine has been offered to the crew and when they complained, a 1-year expired lot of medicine was provided.
One of the Indian sailors, Suraj Singh has alleged that the situation has deteriorated further since April 25 when the cook again tried to kill them and had dumped garbage in front of their cabin.
The crew had defended themselves and managed to take away his knife. However, the third engineer had tried to escalate the situation by giving them rods to fight with the cook.
The cook had been in a drunken state when he had assaulted. At present, the ship has been docked at the VOC port of Tuticorin where the seafarers had wanted to leave.
ITF inspector K SreeKumar has been briefed about the situation and he has initiated action in coordination with the local police and the Mercantile Marine Department under the Director-General of Shipping (MMD).
The Joint Director General of Shipping, Ajithkumar Sukumaran, has instructed the ship not to go out into the sea until the investigation is over.
As of now, a police complaint has been filed with the help of an ITF representative which prompted the police to visit the ship and forward the case to the headquarters.
The cook might have had some ISIS influence as posters associated with the terrorist organizations have been found. The sailors have informed the police that a third engineer even tried to purchase guns at ports and the crew has evidence to validate this claim.
While 5 of them wants to leave, 3 wants to continue with the voyage as they have already paid 3lakhs to the agent, plus 50 dollars from their month’s salary.
However, Anil K Salkoria, the Indocean Shipping agent has refused that any such service charge has been taken from the sailors. He further stated that he hadn’t been aware of the hardships faced by them and had only known about some stomach illness issues faced by the crew.
The issue has been raised with the management who have assured of quick action, he had revealed further. So far, the company has asked the sailors to sign off and leave the ship immediately as they can’t protect them in midsea.
However, sailors like Tamilvannan have decided to go forward with the ship. The ship is expected to sail to Vietnam where it will be in dry dock for 15 days as the crew quarantines in a hotel.