Hostage sailors’ kin protest in Delhi

New Delhi: Aggrieved family members of the 17 Indian sailors held hostage by Somali pirates on board MT Royal Grace today staged a protest here demanding the immediate intervention of government for their safe release.

The family members, most of whom had protested last December too and had subsequently met External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, bemoaned over no headway in the case.

MT Royal Grace, the UAE-owned chemical tanker was hijacked, early last year with 17 Indian sailor on board.

“Though we have not met him (Shipping Minister G K Vasan) we have been told by officials here that he was looking into the matter. But we are losing our hope here as no one has met us so far,” said Mundresh, sister of 25-year-old Deck Cadet Saurav, from Meerut. “We came last December too but the gangrape incident overshadowed our cause.

We had then met Khurshid and he had assured us of their safe release. But, nothing happened. How long will I keep lying to my grandson about my son,” said a sobbing Mehtab Jehan from Allahabad, mother of 27-year-old Shahid Babu, a cook on board the ship.

“My brother Bansi Lal Mehra (25) is an engineer on board for the last few years but most of those held hostage I believe had just joined the ship,” Kanhaiya Lal Mehra from Itarsi said.

Lok Das Sahu from Chhatisgarh is also camping in front of the ministry’s office for his son Pritam Kumar (25).

“From state governments to central one, everyone just wants to give us compensation. They have asked us take a 2.5 lakh cheque and go home. Are our children’s lives just a few lakhs worth? We’ll not budge from here and would sit on a hunger-strike if our voices are not heard,” said tearful Mehtab and Mundresh.


Original Article