Bella Jaisinghani, TNN
MUMBAI: The families of 11 captive crew of the MV Albedo, which was seized by Somali pirates in 2010, have renewed a plea to free their kin on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr.
The relatives of the captives who hail from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Iran say they have not celebrated a single festival since that time, and have indeed forgotten “how to laugh”.
One of the two Indian crew members was shot dead soon after the hijacking, while the other, who hails from north India, remains prisoner. Indian officials did not disclose his identity for fear of jeopardizing his safety.
The appeal issued over Eid-ul-Fitr read, “We once again appeal with folded hands to the Somali community across the world to convince the men (pirates) to release them on humanitarian grounds. We have not celebrated any festival since three years and have forgotten even to laugh. The only faith on which we are surviving is that we will be able to rejoice with our son, father, husband, brother one day. Their small children, wives and old parents are eagerly waiting to meet them and again celebrate festivals.” Since the Malaysian vessel was hijacked, the relatives had uploaded pages on the social network pleading for their release. A few countries including Pakistan managed to secure the freedom of their nationals, reportedly paying ransom amounts of up to 1 million dollars.
“In July, however, the hijacked vessel sank off Somalia. Of the 15 crew members, 11 survived and were transferred to a fishing vessel, Naham 3, by the pirates. They are on land now but continue to remain under their captors’ control,” said Chirag Bahri, regional director, South Asia, of the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP).
The vessel was hijacked on November 26, 2010, with 23 sailors on board. Seven were Pakistani, seven Bangladeshi, six Sri Lankan, two Indian and one Iranian. The vessel was overrun by armed Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden while carrying cement from Jebel Ali, Dubai, to Mombassa, Kenya. The Somalis demanded a ransom of USD 10 million.