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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

As govt turns a deaf ear, youths go online to save mariner

Naresh K Thakur , Hindustan Times  Dharamsala, June 25, 2013
First Published: 20:48 IST(25/6/2013) | Last Updated: 20:50 IST(25/6/2013)

Even as the state and central governments have turned a deaf ear to the repeated calls of a family from Kardial village in Kangra district for the safe release of their son, some youths of Kangra district have started online campaigns to save 22-year-old Aman Sharma, a mariner in the captivity of Somali pirates since 2010.

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The campaigns are being run simultaneously on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter and online petition forums titled “Save Aman Sharma” have also been launched.

Aman of Kardial village in Jwali area of Kangra district was held hostage by Somali pirates on November 16, 2010, from 293 miles west of Maldives in Indian Ocean after they hijacked MV Albedo ship of Majestic Enrich Shipping Company of Malaysia, in which Aman was working as a crew member.

Since then Aman's father Keval Krishan Sharma, a retired solider, has made countless communications to the state government, union external affairs ministry and the director general of shipping, seeking help for safe release of his son, but met only with disappointments.

Initially, politicians in the state supported him and then they gave up on his case. In between, Pakistan secured the release of seven of its citizens by paying the hijackers, while the Indian government refrained from negotiations and another mariner held hostage with Aman was killed by pirates.

The Somali pirates, who had earlier demanded $10 million and release of their 61 comrades from Indian jails, have now agreed to release Aman for Rs. 1 crore.

“We will leave no stone unturned for Aman's release. We are using each and every platform to highlight the cause and press the Indian government to take some initiative,” said Pranav Ghabroo, chairman of the Prayukti Youth Organisation- a forum with its headquarters at Baijnath in Kangra.

Ghabroo said the organisation started a community page on Facebook simultaneously with an online petition and fund collection campaign to save Aman.

“The campaign is getting a good response as hundreds of people are coming forward to lend their support for the cause,” said Ghabroo, adding that various mariners' associations across the globe have also joined the campaign.

Elaborating about the next step in their campaign, Ghabroo said the organisation would be organising silent marches and awareness camps in different cities to garner support. Gatherings will be organised in Kolkata and Assam on June 29 and Delhi and Dharamsala on June 30 which will be attended by mariners' community of the country.

“Aman's father Keval Krishan Sharma will be joining us at Delhi along with hundreds of mariners from Kerela,” Ghabroo said, adding that the event would focus on awareness of people on legal aspects of the case and how to save Aman.

“The government is accountable to each and every of its citizen, no matter if he is working outside the country and we want the government to step in to save the young life,” said Ghabroo.


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