Two seafarers from India who were left stranded without their passports on a cargo vessel in Bushehr in Iran from 2019 have been released post the Indian Embassy’s move to issue travel documents to the duo, it emerged on Friday.
The claim made by the Maritime Union of India (MUI) could not be substantiated independently. The MUI financed the duo’s flight tickets back to India, it said in a statement.
The union gave a clear outline of the seafarer’s plight. Ashish Sakpal and Arham Shaikh had started from Mumbai on a tourist visa to Iran to board a cargo ship in September 2019 at Bandar Abbas Port.
Their trip, according to the MUI, was enabled by a shady recruitment agency in Mumbai. When Sakpal and Shaikh reached, their passports were taken away by the shipowner and its local agent.
The shipowner and the agent later claimed they had lost the passports. The seafarer duo allegedly received little food and water on board the Sea Princess during their virtual imprisonment. Ultimately, the seafarers lost contact with their families back in India.
The families approached MUI in 2020, which took up the matter with diplomats and officials.