DNA Exclusive: Freed from pirates’ clutches, Mumbai sailors head home

By Ateeq Shaikh

After a year of uncertainty and anxiety, the Somali pirates have finally released two vessels – Merchant Tanker (MT) Royal Grace and MT Smyrni – and 28 Indian sailors last week.

Of the 28 freed sailors, Ajay Kumar Tiwari and Sharad Dhamne are from Mumbai.

MT Royal Grace and MT Smyrni were hijacked by Somali pirates last year on March 2 and May 10, respectively. There were 17 Indians on MT Royal Grace and 11 Indians aboard MT Smyrni.

On Wednesday, sailor Vinay Kumar Tiwari, Ajay Kumar Tiwari’s elder brother, spoke to DNA about the appeals they made to the Union ministry of shipping as well as the ministry of defence to get MT Royal Grace and its crew released.

“Although the ship was hijacked on March 2, 2012, we got to know about the incident in April. Since then, the entire household has been tensed,”said Vinay.

This Vikhroli resident said the initial weeks were restless. “We were unable to sleep and eat,” Vinay added.

The Dhamne family’s situation was no different. Sharad Dhamne, who was part of the MT Smyrni crew, has a one-and-a-half-year-old child.

His brother Deepak Dhamne said, ‚ÄúOn the second day itself, the shipping company told us that Sharad’s vessel was hijacked by pirates. Since then, the company officials have been updating us about the crew’s health.‚Äù

A relief for the Dhamne’s was that the crew on MT Smyrni were not subjected to physical torture and they received food in time too.

In fact, food was supplied to the crew of MT Royal Grace from this ship. Sharad is expected to reach Mumbai this weekend, but Ajay’s reunion is not yet decided.

Sources said there were 17 Indians, four Nigerians and a Bangadeshi national onboard the MT Royal Grace that was hijacked in March last year.

One Nigerian was killed in captivity by the Somali pirates. Out of the 26 crew members onboard MT Smyrni that was captured in May last year, 11 are Indians and the rest are Filipinos.

Sources said given the mental trauma the sailors must have undergone, they are likely to undergo counseling by a psychiatrist after their return.

The families too will be counseled separately to lead a better life and heal and manage their stress levels.

Via: http://www.dnaindia.com/

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