By¬†Abhijit Sathe & Yogesh Naik
Desperate to get eight Indians held hostage by Somali pirates free, the Ministry of Home Affairs has stepped up its pressure on the state government to expedite the trial of 120 Somalian pirates, said sources in Mumbai police and state government.¬†
The Indians were held hostage at different times over a period of two years.
In the state government, former chief secretary Jayant Banthia and additional chief secretary (Home) Amitabh Rajan have been vehemently opposing this proposal.
The pirates were arrested by the Indian Navy and Coast Guard in 2011. Since the Yellow Gate police station has jurisdiction on the western coast, they were handed over to the Mumbai police and four cases were registered against them.
The pirates have been lodged in Taloja jail at state expense. India does not have proper laws regarding piracy. Admiral D K Joshi, while heading the western naval command, had taken a decision of not arresting the pirates but confiscating their arms and releasing them.
When the trial began in Mumbai, the Yellow Gate police found it difficult to communicate with the pirates. Meanwhile, the Somali government also took up the issue while the pirates’ families have been demanding an interview with them.
The cabinet secretariat has always been in favour of a fast trial for pirates. At one point last year, the Ministry of External Affairs had stated that it would be better to release the pirates ahead of the Somali Premier’s visit but Rajan opposed it.
Last month, MHA again asked for speedy disposition and called the investigating officer of the case to Delhi. Meanwhile, naval intelligence unit has said 35 of these pirates are really dangerous.