The Haryana government has assured the families of six Indians who have been held hostage by Somali pirates since August last year that it will ensure their safe return.
These Indians were among the 22 crew members and their ship MV Suez, an Egyptian cargo vessel, hijacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden on August 2, 2010. The pirates have demanded nearly Rs. 20 crore for their release.
"Efforts are being made to get the Indian workers released from the Somalian pirates. The whole nation is concerned about their well-being," Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said.
The 22 hostages comprise 11 Egyptians, six Indians - who include at least two from Haryana, four Pakistanis and one Sri Lankan. They are living under very inhuman conditions and are given only boiled rice and fish to eat, according to those negotiating with the pirates.
Hooda added: "It does not matter to which state the hostages belong as they all are Indians. Effective steps are being taken for their release."
The family members of four Indian victims had Sunday also met Rohtak MP Deepender Hooda, the son of the chief minister, and urged him to ensure the safe release of the hostages.
The Ansar Burney Trust, which is run by Pakistan's former federal minister for human rights Ansar Burney, is also working to ensure the safe release of the Indian and Pakistani hostages.
Burney, who is a leading human rights activist, is in contact with the pirates and is trying to convince them to free the crew members on humanitarian grounds.