Six Indian sailors, held captive by Somali pirates for over 10 months, have been released and they will return home in the coming days, their family members said on Tuesday.
The release materialised after the continuous efforts of Pakistan-based Ansar Burney Trust, which is run by Pakistan's former federal minister for human rights, Ansar Burney.
The Indians were among the 22 crew members of MV Suez, an Egyptian cargo vessel which was hijacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden Aug 2, 2010.
"We are very thankful to Ansar Burney and Pakistan government for their help. They have paid a ransom of 2.1 million dollars to the pirates to make this release possible. Burney was negotiating with the pirates for the last few months," Sampa Arya, wife of Ravinder Gulia (30), one of the hostages and resident of Haryana's Rohtak town, told IANS Tuesday.
"I have talked to my husband over the phone. He said that they have been released and all of them are in good health. They will reach India in the next few days," she added.
Apart from the six Indians, the 22 hostages comprised 11 Egyptians, four Pakistanis and one Sri Lankan. The Indians include two from Haryana and one each from Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Jammu and Kashmir. One of the Indians is from Mumbai.
The family members of the hostages had met many senior Indian politicians to secure their release but all their efforts went in vain.
Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene in this matter but nothing fruitful worked out.
"Burney had raised funds with the help of the Pakistan government. Here, the Indian government has let us down. We met many leaders but nobody helped us. They said paying ransom is not the right way. I have lost all my faith in Indian politicians," stated Arya.
Rajender Gulia, father of Ravinder, said, "Pakistan has helped us like an elder brother in this matter. We had lost all hopes as no Indian politician was ready to help us. Saving a human life was not important for them. But Pakistan emerged as a saviour for us."