Captain Prabhat Goyal and six other crew members of the cargo vessel M V Stolt Valor, freed by Somali pirates after being held hostage for two months, arrived here early today.
"The experience was very bad. They tortured us mentally. But at the end, we are happy to be back safe," an emotional and tired-looking Goyal told the waiting media at the Indira Gandhi International airport here.
All the 18 crew members on board the Japanese ship have now returned to India after their two-month ordeal. While Goyal and six others arrived at the city's International Airport from Muscat at about 0400 hours, five others had earlier landed at Mumbai yesterday.
Recalling the harrowing experience, another crew member Rajinder Malik from Haryana, said: "The pirates tortured us mentally and physically. They often fired in the air to terrify us. Communication was another problem. The only words they uttered were 'go', 'sit' and 'ok'."
The crew survived on 'dal' and fishes, he said, adding the pirates, numbering around 30 to 35, were so arrogant that they even fought among themselves.
The ship was hijacked by Somali pirates on September 15 and the 22-member crew was kept hostage at the port of Eyl in Somalia for nearly two months until an undisclosed ransom was paid by the owners of the vessel.
Asked about the ransom, Goyal refused to comment saying, "it is confidential and kept secret between me, ship owners and the pirates.
The crew members broke down when they were given a warm welcome by their relatives and friends.
Seema Goyal, wife of the ship's captain, said her husband is in good health and that the family plans to celebrate his safe return in a big way.
"Definitely we will celebrate. But first let them relax for a day. After that a big party will be hosted at our home in Dehradun," a beaming Seema, accompanied by her three children and other family members, said.
She had earlier relentlessly worked for the ship's release and sought the Indian government's mediation in the matter. "We thank God, the ship company and all people of India who stood with us in the difficult times.
"I've brought flowers which are dad's favourite. For me Diwali, Dusherra everything is today. Our house is decorated and we have also stored crackers," Ayushi, Goyal's daughter, said.
The crew members looked very relieved to be finally at home, but some of them still want to go sailing again.
"If my family agrees, then I will again go for the job in seas. However, the Indian navy should take more steps to ensure the safety of vessels in high seas. We were happy when we learned that INS Tabar sank a pirate mothership," a crew member, Rajinder Malick, said.