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Freed hostage returns home after 81 days, tells harrowing tales of Hijack

india Updated: Jan 04, 2010 19:33 IST
Gaurav Bisht
Gaurav Bisht
Hindustan Times
Freed hostage returns home after 81 days

It was celebrations at the house of Pathania’s located in Sukarh village on outskirt of the hill town as hostage freed by Somali pirates returned home after 81 days. Young Raghubir Pathania, Chief Engineer, aboard on hijacked ship Kota - Wajar released recently gets traumatized when he recalls the day when Somali pirates took over ship sailing in gulf of Adens.

‘We were just sailing suddenly the ship was surrounded by boats carrying armed men’ Raghubir, who reached his home on Monday morning told Hindustan Times. ‘Initial days at ship were tough, pirates armed with heavy arms and machine guns would not let us do anything. Ambiance on the ship was frightening, few sailors and deck cadets of young age were more terrified to see the armed men on the ship’’ says Raghubir Pathania, who says that his positive belief made him to face ordeal for the 73 days on the ship.

Thirty four year Chief Engineer says that the pirates who were about 36 in number with passage of time changed their attitude towards the crew member. “Pirates changed their behaviour, later they became friendly with hostage crew on ship” said Raghubir Pathania. “One can imagine how friendly they were. If someone fell sick, the pirates took them to doctors”. Raghubir, for the 73 days the pirates made the hostage to eat boiled potatoes, flour and some time rice. The released hostage while sharing his experience said that crew on the ship did not resist when the pirates were taking over. Pirates on the ship were heavily armed with sophisticated weapons, including machine guns and automatic rifles. Raghubir said that plight of the family bothered him more than the pirates on ship. ‘ It was difficult time for me as I could gauge the worry my family had’’ said Raghubir.

Pathania who has been employed with Pacific International Limited- Singaporean based shipping company for the past thirteen years observed that pirates were dedicatedly religious people. ‘They held their namaz in routine’’ said Raghubir, while he explained that pirates hailed from poor families. ‘Majority of pirates on board of the ship were illiterate and said that they worked for warlords’’

According to Pathania, pirates get 20 percent of the ransom money, while the 40 percent of the total amounts goes to the warlord and 20 percent is given to the people who take care of the hostage on the ship. Raghubir did not much knowledge how the shipping company persuaded the hijackers to release the ship. ‘I have no knowledge about the ransom given to hijackers” said Pathania.

The hostage crew obmn ship played cards and indorr games to keep them busy.

Raghubir’s mother Shakuntala and his father Pritam Singh had no words to express their joy. ‘I express my heartfelt gratitude to all the people who stood by the family during the odds’ His wife Deepika took out time to go out visit the hill town with her husband and three year old son Aarav. Relatives and the villagers kept visiting the house of Pathania to inquire the well being of freed hostage and to greet the family.

Raghubir Pathania on board of the ship was taken hostage, when the Singaporean vessel was hijacked on October 15 two days ahead of Diwali festival.