Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention in directing the ministry of external affairs for immediate release of 35 Indian national crew members, along with Capt SS Cheema, who were arrested at Bandar Abbas in Iran on August 12.
The crew of the Shipping Corporation of India Limited owned motor tanker 'Desh Shanti' vessel was arrested while navigating the Iranian seas.
In two separate letters addressed to the Prime Minister and external affairs minister Salman Khurshid, Badal impressed upon them for expediting the release of the vessel along with its captain and crew at the earliest.
The Merchant Navy Officers Association, led by Capt Lalit Chander Dharmani, along with Neena Cheema, wife of Capt Cheema, called on the chief minister here on Thursday evening and apprised him of the entire incident to seek his help in getting the crew members released.
The crew members were arrested on the ground that the ship had allegedly polluted Iranian seas. The crew on board was feeling threatened and were distressed for the past 18 days. The hygiene of the vessel was also a matter of concern, it was pointed out.
Capt Cheema is a resident of SAS Nagar, who had informed his wife that their vessel was in no way responsible for creating any pollution and did not commit any irregularity; rather it complied with all international rules and regulations, the spokesman said.
The association also urged the chief minister on behalf of the families of the seafarers that the vessel be released immediately besides securing the safe return of their loved ones.