After being held in an Iranian jail for months with no-fault of theirs, four Indian seafarers were finally released on July 29. However, just hours after, they were once again taken back to prison, as there was no one to hand them over to and repatriate to India.
The four sailors were on board M T Manaman 8, a cargo vessel transporting oil. However, the Iranian Coast Guard arrested the crew members and sent them to prison as they allegedly transported unauthorised oil. The arrest took place in March this year. And they have been languishing in jail ever since. All four sailors hail from different states, one from Kerala, one from Andhra Pradesh, one from Odisha and another from Uttar Pradesh.
One of the seafarers, Deepak’s mother, Shirley, who hails from Kerala, informed newspersons that neither the shipowner nor the captain of the vessel came to their rescue. The crew had been languishing in prison, and there was no proper response from the shipping agent as well.
While describing her predicament, Shirley informed newspersons that after March 17, they had no idea about Deepak’s whereabouts. They tried to contact the shipping agent as well, but there was no response from him. Finally, they came to know about Deepak’s arrest from another crew member’s father. After that, an Indian Embassy official got in touch with the seafarers in prison and provided the families with all the necessary assistance.
As per available information, the seafarers were released from prison on July 29. However, as there was no official to receive them and make the necessary arrangements for their repatriation to India, they were taken back to prison. No official either from the shipowner, his representatives or the shipping agent were present to receive them.
The UK-based Sailors’ Society providing support to seafarer’s families has taken up the matter with the Union Ministry of External Affairs.
Manoj Joy V, Community Development Manager, Sailors’ Society, informed newspersons that, being ordinary seafarers, the Indian crew members were not aware of the membership of the cargo or the details of the end receiver. Therefore, he has requested the Ministry of External Affairs intervention to provide for their repatriation.
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