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Captured sailors threaten suicide

india Updated: Feb 13, 2009 00:11 IST
Anuraag Singh
Anuraag Singh
Hindustan Times
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With no help from the government to rescue them, 14 Indian sailors held captive with a cargo vessel at Mogadishu (Somalia) since October 10, 2008 have reportedly threatened to end their lives.

One of them, Manoj Singh, a welder-cum-fitter, hailing from Judapur village of Jaunpur district of Uttar Pradesh rang up his family on Tuesday morning and said in a trembling voice that with no help coming from the government, it was better to commit suicide, a report from Jaunpur said on Tuesday.

Manoj also rang up local scribes in Jaunpur and repeated the same words on behalf of the entire crew -- six of whom are from UP.

Earlier, on February 1, Manoj’s wife Poonam (mother of two minors) had written to President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the External Affairs Ministry and the UP Chief Minister Mayawati, appealing for their help to get the Indian sailors released.

Talking to presspersons on Thursday morning on the phone from Somalia, Manoj reportedly said they are not getting any food and are drinking seawater. Many of the sailors have become seriously ill. “When our own government is not hearing our appeal maybe we should die on our own,” he is reported to have said.

Manoj (34), is among 14 Indian crew members of cargo vessel ‘MV Jaipur 1’ owned by Dubai-based shipping group Al-Rashid Shipping Company, which has been held captive by a business client in Somalia after it anchored at a Somali port on October 10, 2008.

Those holding the crew and cargo vessel captive are demanding damages worth $ 20 lakh as compensation for damage to their cargo.

After news of the cargo vessel with Indian sailors on board being held captive broke a few days ago, UP Culture Minister Subhash Pandey had said he would take up the matter urgently with the central government. But till now nothing seems to have been done, Manoj’s lawyer Vinod Kumar Singh said from Jaunpur on Thursday evening. He also confirmed that with no help in sight, Manoj and the other sailors have stated that they were contemplating ending their lives.