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HindustanTimes Thu,28 Aug 2014

Glimmer of hope for six captive Indian sailors

Shishir Gupta and Rajesh Ahuja, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 22, 2012
First Published: 00:30 IST(22/12/2012) | Last Updated: 01:40 IST(22/12/2012)

Nearly three years after cargo ship MV Iceberg 1 was hijacked by Somalian pirates, there appears to be a glimmer of hope for its six Indian crew members and other Indian hostages.

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While New Delhi is closely monitoring the situation, Indian Navy sources confirm that there is an opportunity to end the longest hostage crisis.

The Puntland Army of Somalia has surrounded the vessel and fire is being exchanged by both sides.

"Our intelligence confirms that as many as 22 crew of Indian origin after being rounded from other hijacked ships are being held hostage on MV Iceberg 1. The Indian nationals were moved to the ship from labour concentration camps in Somalia only 10 days ago and are being held hostage by some seven armed pirates. The ship was surrounded by Puntland Army last week and there is fire being exchanged between the two," said a senior naval officer.

The vessel with other hijacked ships, which were run aground by pirates, are located 150 nautical miles south of Mogadishu.

It has been distraught three years for the families of the crew members.

"I ran from pillar to post to secure the release of my son. I even went to Dubai in May this year to meet the officials of the company that owns the vessel. I was told that some kind of settlement is going on. But so far I have not heard anything," said Mansingh Mohite, father of Ganesh Mohite, who is one of the captured crew members.

Chandigarh-based World Human Rights Protection Council had moved the Punjab and Haryana high court on the issue. The court had directed the Centre to take measure to secure the release.

"It seems that the government is yet to implement the court order," said Kanishka Lakhanpal, who is associated with the council. 

A 4,500-tonne Panama registered cargo ship, Iceberg, owned by a UAE company, was hijacked off the coast of Aden on March 29, 2010. Apart from the ransom money, the pirates are demanding that India releases their comrades captured by the Indian Navy.

Indian external intelligence and Navy is in touch with director-general of the Puntland Army to ask him to push his men to keep on firing at the pirates to exhaust their ammunition or force them to let go of the hostages.


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