Sailor Who Escaped From Pirates To End Up In Nigerian Jail, Seeks Help From Government

Vizianagram sailor Sankara Rao Jarjana was supposed to receive help from the Indian High Commission in Nigeria, after being jailed for illegally entering Nigerian waters after fleeing from Somalian pirates about a year ago. Having been on board since November 23rd, 2018, he is now at the end tethers of his endurance.

Captain Sanjay Prashar initiated to help the sailor who was “struggling for legal help and (has) been treated unfairly”, placing attention on what was otherwise a case with barely any details. He presented the matter to the High Commission. The unjustified criminalization led Prashar to file an RTI in September 2019.

The 25-year-old sent his pleas to the Indian embassy in Nigeria only to hear that they were helpless as legal battles are to be fought by the shipping company. Sankara Rao has now written to the Director-general of Shipping, Amitabh Kumar asking for aid to be able to reach home, as told to TOI.

Representation Image – Photograph by Delimajunel

He and the escapees spent six months in jail before receiving bail that came with the condition to stay onboard the ship at Bonny Island until the 24th of march. Chirag Bahri of the International Seafarers and Welfare Network (ISWAN) had gotten in touch regarding details of the case.

Last year, Rao fled from pirates raiding the US-based Petronav Carrier ship and was arrested by the Nigerian Navy for entering Nigerian territorial waters. While Rao hid in the engine room, the pirates kept 5 Indian hostages.

They were let out after the Indian government alerted Nigerian authorities and relived the custody of pirates and reached Nigerian waters on the same boat. Rao has now spent 21 months onboard and is “mentally and physically broke”. The ship he resides in is currently under the watchful eye of 2 Ghana ships and one Nigerian vessel.


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