The fate of the 10 Indian sailors aboard the hijacked MV Victoria depends on the whims of the Somali pirates’ clan leaders.
Warlords and militant clans lord it over the east African nation. Authorities say they aren’t sure which clan has hijacked Victoria. “In such cases, we speak to the clan leaders. If the pirates respect them, they let the ship go,” said Andrew Mwangura, head, East Africa Seafarers’ Assistance Programme. He said pirates sometimes keep crew and vessels hostage for 400 days. “We suspect the hijackers are part of a group working under the name ‘Somali Marines.”
Otherwise, it’s up to how much diplomatic pressure India can exert on the international community. India is the most powerful country among those whose sailors are on the Victoria. Among the 23 crew are Pakistanis, Burmese, Bangladeshis, Kenyans and Tanzanians.
Victoria was hijacked on May 17 off Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital. On May 20, it was anchored near Hobiyo, 1.5 nautical miles north-east of Elmaan island, according to the Indian Director-General, Shipping. “The ship managers say they haven’t received any communication from the hijackers. They are trying to contact the hijackers through the cargo consignees in Mogadishu,” said officers of the Director-General, Shipping.
Among the Indian sailors are Uttam Bhattacharjee, Sombir Kumar, Jayeshkumar Tandela, Naresh Tandel, Akhilesh Singh, Sadshiv Yadav, Chandrakant Tandel, Iman Ghosh and Jaivindh Jose.
The Maritime Liaison Office, commander of US naval forces and Central Command, Bahrain, have promised help. The Indian Coast Guard Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, Mumbai, has contacted search-and-rescue agencies in Yemen, Seychelles and Norway.